Swine Flu, Argentina

Swine flu posters are everywhere

by Keira Louis

We’ve been hearing about the Swine Flu or H1N1 Virus for months now. It all started in Mexico but now it’s a pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of cases reported in countries all over the world. As a result, some strange things are happening, as you know – schools have been closed down, football crowds are being told to stay at home for a week after attending games, and surgical masks are being distributed at airports to travellers with possible ‘Swine flu’ symptoms. But in terms of crazy preventative measures, it’s possible that Argentina takes the cake.

Since we arrived in this country 3 weeks ago, we have not stopped hearing about the Swine Flu and the precautions the government is taking to control its spread. Perhaps it is the same back home, but the orders being made here just seem ridiculous!

On arriving in Mendoza, we made a brief visit to the Tourist Information centre to help us plan our stay. Having not seen any performances for a long while, I asked about what was on at the local theatre, eager to see anything. The response – I don’t know if anything will be on for a while as the government is worried about the spread of Swine Flu. Ok…..

We returned to our hostel and had a great chat with the owner. What is going on? we asked him. He had a similar story. The rugby team he played for in Mendoza had invited a New Zealand rugby team to Argentina to play them. A few days after the NZ boys had organised their trip, the Argentinian government announced that no contact sports were allowed to be played because of Swine Flu. Crazy! So instead, the NZ boys will fly all the way to Argentina for a BBQ!

Even in other cities, bars were being closed left, right and centre; some places were closing their internet cafes; and the annual 9th of July Argentinian Independance Day celebrations were cancelled, all for the same reason – Swine Flu.  How ironic then, that travelling for 20+ hours on a bus with 40 other people in a confined space with no ventilation across Argentina is still ok!

Let us know what crazy precautions the government is putting into place back home!

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