20090427 mexicans masks 18
Mexicans await outside their offices in Mexico City wearing masks as the country grapples with an outbreak of the swine flu. - 


Steve Chiotakis: Swine flu has been quite the worldly traveler. But the World Health Organization is considering whether to call it a pandemic. But in Mexico, where it likely began, officials say the flu is now under control. And after a five-day business shutdown, the government there says the country's ready to reopen. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: The Mexican government says its five-day shutdown of schools, government and business has contained the swine flu outbreak. The country will return to work tomorrow.

Serena Vinter is researcher at the Trust for America's Health:

Serena Vinter: They knew that they were going to pay an economic price. But I think they felt it was something that they had to do to just to get a handle on things.

The business shutdown cost Mexico an estimated $150 million a day in lost productivity. Vinter says that pales in comparison to the potential cost of reopening too early.

Vinter: This virus could sort of go underground and then six months later pop up and have mutated and become a much more virulent virus. And that's the real worry.

Vinter admits it's impossible to know whether Mexico really has the flu beat. We'll only know if Mexico reopened too early once it's too late to reverse course.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.