This May Day weekend in Mexico will feel very different. Instead of parades and celebrations, all non-essential government services will close, along with cinemas, bars and restaurants. It’s believed it could cost $60 billion a day to the economy of Mexico city alone. And it’s not just that country’s economy that’s being hit. Stocks are falling, flights are being cancelled, 300,000 pigs have been killed in Egypt and some countries are banning pork imports. As many analysts are saying, this is the last thing the fragile world economy needs right now, let alone the vulnerable economy of Mexico. Is Mexico doing the right thing? Or does keeping the economy going matter more than stopping the swine flu?
When SARS broke out in 2003, it cost the Asia-Pacific region an estimated $40 billion. The WHO this time around has been careful not to advise against all non-essential travel to Mexico like it did back then, partly because it doesn’t want another repeat of the economic cost. Is that the responsible thing to do, or should it be more concerned with minimising the risk of transmission, no matter what the economic cost?
This US politician wants to close the border between the US and Mexico. That would have a devastating effect on the Mexican economy, and badly affect America too. The Obama administration has said it’s not considering closing the border so does that show that it’s putting economic concerns above health ones?
Should we all be continuing to travel to Mexico and making a special effort to buy pork to keep those industries going? Is there an argument that the potential fallout of the country of Mexico being thrown into economic chaos could be more damaging in the long term to the rest of the world than the short term risk of the flu spreading?