Swine Flu in Cancun, Mexico- Update Monday Afternoon

Well, it's official, the president has called for schools nationwide to be closed until May 6th. As I am a teacher, that means that I am on vacation as well (thank goodness, don't know what I would have done with my son). Private and public day care centers, kindergartens, primary, high schools and universities will all be closed as of tomorrow in an effort to control the spread of the swine flu. Mexico City is all but shut down, museums, movie theaters and public events are closed and canceled. The governor of Yucatan has canceled public events in Merida for the next three days at least. Acapulco has closed discos and bars as a precautionary measure. Quintana Roo and Cancun are still functioning as normal, with the exception of the school closures.

As of this moment (and things change fast), there are still zero confirmed cases of swine flu in Cancun or the state of Quintana Roo, though there are a few cases currently under investigation.

Many airlines are waiving the change fee for people with upcoming flights to Mexico, check with your carriers if you are considering altering your travel plans. At the moment, no flights are being canceled. Countries around the world have begun to warn their citizens against travel to Mexico AND the United States and Canada. People are being asked to refrain from all non-essential travel to infected countries.

For the scientific analysis, you're in the wrong place, track the disease on WHO or CDC. I can only share what I know, news from Cancun and Quintana Roo and Mexico. I cannot tell anyone whether to cancel their upcoming trip or not, though I would say if it's more than a week away, to hold on until we have more information. I really can't tell anyone if it's safe or not, that's a call that only you can make after doing all your research. I can tell you that currently there are no infections in Cancun or the state of Quintana Roo and that authorities are taking precautions to try to prevent infected people from entering the state. I can tell you that now that the disease has been identified, they find it easily curable with the correct medication. I can tell you that the government has promised that there is more than enough medicine to treat anyone who becomes ill in Mexico. I can tell you that I am not frightened at all. I have not seen anyone in Cancun wearing a face mask and in surveying my students this morning, none of them felt any kind of fear. Their fear was for the possibility of bad economic times ahead as a result of the disease (and the bad press).

Would I travel to Mexico right now? Good question. I don't know. I was thinking about this today, what if I had booked a big vacation with my family, the vacation of my dreams and something like this happened. I would have to think very hard, do research to find out exactly what the risks were and weigh all sides of the issue. What are the odds of becoming sick? At this point, I have no idea. What are the odds of dying? I would speculate that the odds of dying are pretty small, particularly if you pay close attention to your health, if you do get sick, get to a hospital and they will be able to treat you. Do I have out of country health insurance? Do I have trip cancellation insurance?

And if the swine flu wasn't enough, the news this morning states that an earthquake has struck Mexico City and Acapulco, though there are no reported injuries or damages right now. Can we get some locusts thrown in here please?

All of this information is accurate as I know it to be, on Monday April 27 at 2:15 CST. I know things can change fast, but I will not be updating until tomorrow unless something big happens in this area of Mexico. For up to the minute information, get on Twitter. Follow me or track the threads at #swineflu (mostly English and American information) or #influenza (mostly Spanish from a Mexican perspective). Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN is in Mexico City and is tweeting from there with up to date information, good person to follow. Please keep in mind that in addition to factual information, that Twitter does bring out the rumour-mongers and jokesters, so pay attention to the source of the information before believing it. Don't panic, don't spread rumours and remember to wash your hands and cover your mouth when you sneeze please.

To those who have emailed me with questions, I am doing my best to respond individually, please be patient with me (I may miss some of you and for that I apologize).

(this is old news now folks, here's a link for updates on swine flu in Cancun)

Comments

Sara said…
Good post. I've been thinking about writing one for Chile even though it the virus isn't here yet, people are already planning for it and worrying about travel to North America.
Sandman said…
Thanks for posting. We are scheduled to arrive on Saturday May 2nd. We are still coming, just trying to gather as much info as possible.
Amanda Lynn said…
I was watching NBC's Today Show this morning, and they had some people on speculating why the confirmed cases of the swine flu in the US have been less severe than those in Mexico. One thought was that the people in the US sought treatment sooner than those in Mexico (or if they did it was diagnosed incorrectly). I got the impression they didn't think it is time to panic yet, just be aware of your health, what the symptoms of swine flu actually are, and wash your hands a lot.
Janet said…
Thanks so much for your update! We are going to be vacationing there May 6th-10th. This is our trip we have been looking forward to for the longest. I thank you so much for your blog and info. Keep us updated and take care.
Lexybabe said…
I am having my wedding on May 23rd it would break my heart to have to cancel. I have over 50 ppl going.
helene said…
i am planning a vacation to cancun from may 2nd to 9th. this is my first vacation ever and i am very apprehensive. thanks for the updates
Teresa said…
I fly in on Friday, May 1. I am not really sure what to think.

Will the airports be open and can I get transport to my hotel?

Getting sick is less of a concern than the whole national crisis aspect. Thanks for posting!
Leah Heck said…
I originally found your blog while looking for information on grocery stores in cancun. (I'm not a wal-mart fan, thanks for the post on it being stinky to confirm I won't go there, even in Mexico)

But now I've come to check it every day to get your first hand updates about the flu. We're supposed to have a condo for May 3 - 10th but aren't going to make a decision until later in the week whether to cancel.

Thank you for your great posts. You've made this stranger feel more accurately informed.
LisaG05 said…
My parents are in Cancun right now and we are planning to meet them next Wednesday, the 6th. I just spoke to my mom on the phone and she told both me and my husband that everything is fine where they are. Even though my dad isn't the healthiest, if they really thought there was a problem, they wouldn't have risked it. We are going unless they decide to quarantine every possible route there lol. And we are also going to stock up on antiflu and other meds for the trip. Guess some people might think its crazy and we are idiots for moving on but I've never been one to lock myself in my house every time something "bad" happens. I.M.H.O the media takes what is "bad" and amplifies it 100 fold, even if they don't have all the facts. But like I said, that's just me....
Dangers said…
Another terrific blog CC, thanks for the update! ;-)
Kelly for President! You're one amazing woman! You leave me speechless everytime I read your blog. Everything you say is so well thought out. You have a gift for this stuff.
Manolo said…
Dear amiga, I might still be within my ivory tower (aka YorkU) that I haven't felt the urgency of the situation. Although believe me, I read and hear paranoia is getting close to SARS levels up here in the land of once in a while Spring (aka now). In any case, I wanted to say "hola" and leave you (and your readers) with a link to the most hilarious response to the "fiebre porcina" (for those who want to google it in Spanish) I have found. From my latest web addiction:

http://xkcd.com/574/
SUSIE said…
We are heading to Cancun this coming Saturday. Thanks for the update and I really didn't think Walmart or Sams' was that bad. I bought my tequilla there as well as some spices. Walmart is still Walmart!
SUSIE said…
Do you have any suggestions for fabric stores in Cancun? We are looking for material to recover our furniture.
Louise said…
Thanks so much for posting this information. My daughter and I have a vacation to Cancun scheduled June 6th. I sure hope all of this is cleared up by then. Please keep us updated. It's nice to be able to get information from someone that is there.
Steve Cotton said…
Nice blog. I saw two adolescents wearing paint masks today in Melaque. Being boys, they would alternately wear the mask on their heads as a cap when not wearing it on their faces. Even in hysteria, joy will win out.
CancunCanuck said…
To all: I'm happy to see so many positive attitudes. I understand those of you who have concerns, but hopefully the next few days will bring more information about where exactly this infection is headed. Hang in there, I will post any new information I have about the flu in this area of Mexico. For those with upcoming plans, I wish you happy and healthy journeys. For those still on the fence, don't fret, whatever will be will be and with more information your decision will be clear.

Teresa, currently there is no talk about closing the airport. With so few people coming in right now, there will be lots of people ready to provide transportation. You can arrange it in advance (and I recommend you do, you'll get a better deal). Try www.cancunvalet.com for airport transfers (yes, the owner is a friend of mine but I don't make commissions, haha, I just know that he runs a fantastic service).

Susie, there are several fabric stores in the area around Tulum and Chichen Itza (taxi drivers will know). One is in Plaza Galerias (on Tulum) and the other I recommend is called "Assis" and is right on the corner of Tulum and Chichen Itza. Happy shopping!

Steve, thanks for always making me smile with your comments. :)

Manolo, great to see you here, looking down from your ivory tower. That link didn't work for me, now I'm super curious!

Married to Mexican, you made me blush, those are such kind words, thanks!
Yes, I continue to listening carefully for the sound of thousands of fluttering wings to signal the arrival of the locust plague.

So far so good here in Mexico City. I tend to agree w/Amanda above-- while obviously we don't know yet, I tend to think the more dramatic impact of the flu here in Mexico stems from delayed doctor visits/diagnoses. I don't think the average salary here really support doctor visits for every time you have a fever or cough.

Here's some additional commentary + a pic of the arguably worthless face masks we got from the embassy... :)
http://www.midwesternerinmexico.com/2009/04/28/crazy-pig-flu-vs-mexico-city-day-4/
Mike said…
Wow. Thanks for the insight. I'm supposed to be heading to Puerto Aventura Thursday, but flying in to Cancun. This is like the only window of vacation I have for the next few months, so I think I'm going to risk it. Unfortunately, I'm flying out of Baltimore and my ladyfriend is flying out of Charlotte. Her parents are freaking out, but I just think the media is blowing this out of proportion.
travis said…
CC, thank you for your wonderful and timely blog posts. My fiance and I are scheduled to arrive in Cancun Monday, May 4th for our honeymoon and we are fully on the fence as of now. I appreciate not only your posts, but the reader comments as well. Can you describe the scene in Cancun? Is it a ghost town or is there still action? Again, looking forward to you continued posts.
Joe said…
I am coming to Cancun on May 1st from Canada! I am a little skeptical of the situation right now in Mexico but I want to be optimist and come to Cancun. I am not worried abouting sick. Stuff like that doesn't worry me. I am worried about coming to Cancun and having to sit in my Hotel room because we won't be allowed to go anywhere, say nightclubs or restaurants. I want to be able to enjoy my vacation without many limitations...thoughts anyone?
Jamie said…
My wife and I returned from Cancun on Saturday. We had a wonderful week there. Wish I had discovered your blog before going.

Regarding the swine flu situation, I've been watching the news reports closely for any reports from Cancun. I've still seen no reports of confirmed cases on the Yucatan peninsula. But today there are reports in the US, Canadian, and UK press of tourists in New York, BC, and Scotland being diagnosed with swine flu upon returning from Cancun. Not good news.
travis said…
Yes, I echo Joe's question in wanting to know more about what the town is like. are there people out enjoying the clubs and restaurants?
DLE said…
My daughter is getting married at Xpu-Ha on Saturday and we leave tomorrow. Your blog is a welcome oasis of sanity in the overblown media blitz of doom and gloom. Thank you!
Phil said…
in the UK it was reported yesterday that a couple from scotland contracted swine flu whilst honeymooning in Cancun...

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/47244,news,all-uk-homes-to-receive-swine-fever-leaflets

Its all suspected that they have since passed it on to another 12 people since arriving home. I guess they didn't heed the warnings, perhaps harsh but it sounds like they were a little irresponsible.

I am travelling to Cancun on Friday regardless, and plan to head straight south to Tulum and then Belize asap. Asides from the risk, I don't think Mexico is gonna be much fun in this state of unease.

I also heard 'speculation' that the source could be from the tropical south-east - any one can confirm this or further info?

great blog, thanks v much!!
rhys said…
Thats it it's over the airlines all over the planet are closing down all the flights for tourists going, they are only retrieving passengers from Mexico Canadian airlines will not resume untill the end!! of may one airline said they are only retrieving passengers and will not resume till sept!!
PingPong_Kid said…
Hey Fellow Travelers: The women who owns this blog-- I highly respect you for saying "I'm not afraid at all" That's awesome! Susie- We're like you traveling to Cancun on Sat. May 2 and we're not worried in the slightest. We expect and we WILL have an excellent time, not to mention all the upgrades we'll get from other people not showing up. People-if you take care of yourself, eat healthy and exercise ie, strenghthen your immune system, you have a much better chance of fighting off the illness. Add to that the breezes of a beach side resortn will dispel most if not all of airborne particulates.

Did you now that an average regular flu kills thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people per year on a good year? I ran some numbers: Approximately one ten-millionth of 1% of people in this country is infected with the virus Thats hardly anything to get worked up about.

Another thing to note is that Mex. City is the most polluted city in the world to begin with, the most crowded city in the world and finally is a valley surrounded by a ring of mountain ranges which essentially traps in all air and creates a toxic mix of unhealthy air, bacteria and gases.

Don't listen to the CDC, especially Richard Besser who is a fearmongerer and a clown. They know next to nothing about the virus, what causes it, the makeup of the people that got it, etc. And NO the masks do not work-- they are DUST masks for use cutting wood and working with insulation and such. They do not keep out viruses, gases and bacteria.

Bottom line is don't let them scare you and don't be afraid. It's common sense, and widespread fear and worldwide panic is not common sense. To anyone traveling to Cancun during the next few days--I salute you and hope you have a marvelous time!--Alex
beachprincess said…
Thanks for great info. My fiance and I are scheduled to arrive in Cancun May 10. We are meeting friends we met there last year. This has been a vacation we are especially looking forward too. Has anyone crunched the numbers ? If 35K people die in America/yr from the flu, that would be almost 700 ppl/wk. Although,my heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones in Mexico, and not to diminish their loss, so far the death count is around 150. This is far less than the regular flu that most people get each year. Pingpong kid is right !!! We cannot live our lives in fear over everything we hear in the Media. Remember the media is just like any other business, they are in it to make money.
At this time, we still plan to come to your beautiful country, enjoy your sun, beaches, wonderful hospitality with our good friends. Please keep us updated.
Jon said…
We are leaving May 11th, if they are flying we are going. We'll just be a little more careful in the airport and on the plane. We are taking my 6 year old daughter, so if I had any fear, we would cancel. I think it is blown out of wack by the media.
Bosplya said…
It's been 11+ years since I've been to Cancun. During that time my wife and I have accrued 3 more passengers. We're scheduled to arrive May 10th. We're still on the fence about going. I really hope things get better. We scheduled this trip in February and our dreams of going are slowly becoming just dreams. If all goes well, beachprincess, we'll see you there.

Canuck in Cancun, I'll be watching your blog for updates until that date.

Thanks for providing local updates in your area.
Virginia said…
I'm supposed to going to Cancun May 22nd for a 9 day vacation with my boyfriend. This is my first real vacation without family that I'm paying for on my own, and I've been dreaming about it for months. I really think the media is making a mountain out of mole hill, but it is difficult to completely ignore it, especially with a number of friends repeating the same stuff you hear on the news. Honestly, I'm not concerned about getting sick, or dying for that matter...I just don't want to get stuck. I'm hearing rumors that the government is pushing to close the borders, or put stays on flights, in which case I don't know what I would do. I have to say though, this blog has put me more at ease then I was before. I'll keep checking back to see if there are more updates from CC or from anyone who has returned from Cancun recently.
minime said…
Well my family and I just came back from Porto Adveturas on Sunday, all healthy. I can only say that at our Hotel everybody seemed good. I feel this is like the Bird flu. Used to scare the B.J. out of people. It's sad that the media can control people this way and if as a country ( Canada) we can beg others to still come when SARS was here, it's a shame we turn on backs on Mexico.There is always going to be a SARS, or Bird flu now Swine flu and something else will come after this. Just because we have the drugs and science dose not mean they won't come. If you are going have a beautiful time in one of the friendliest place I have been in along time.
Emma said…
Hi everyone i'm heading to Cancun on the 1st of June and i'm really looking forward to it. I'm not going to let this stop me as you could get hit by a car tomorrow and die. Thanks for all the imput really great to see so meny still going for it hope to meet some of you out there.
Jon said…
To those who have been through the Cancun airport, what is the scene there like? Beaches empty? After a long cold winter it will be hard to cancel, still got a week to see if it clears up or gets better. It would actually be nice to have it less crowded...as long as it is safe.
beachprincess said…
Just wanted to ask minime which hotel or resort they stayed at in Mex. Do the resorts seems like they are taking more precautions ? Did you notice anyone around the resorts wearing mask or showing any symptoms ? What about rests., or places outside the resorts, see any problems there ?
We will be at one of the Palace resorts on the 10 of May, if they are still allowing travel. I agree the media has blown this way out.
lukesfather said…
sounds like cancun is closing down for the most part......will be a lonely vacation....we are canceling travel.....thanks for your info
Yooperup said…
I just arrived from Cancun yesterday (wed) and stayed in the Riviara Maya with nobody at the resorts whearing masks and no confirmed cases of any flu. If I could of I would have stayed at my resort as you cannot get it snorkeling and in mostly open air beach. Just be clean at the airport. Plenty of people with masks at the airport but none of the local people had masks just foreiegners
Yooperup said…
Just another comment - good time to go as the resorts are in their normal low season and the weather was sunny and warm the whole time. the freaks at the airport with gloves and masks is the freakiest thing if you can look past that and stay away from cnn and the internet while on holiday it will be wonderful
hinemusic said…
We are due to travel to mexico,cancun on 13th May with thomson holidays for our honeymoon.All flights with thomson to cancun have been canceled up until 8th May.We have our hearts set on going and thats what we hope to do pending no more cancelled flights.Will/Are most places still open there?
Yooperup said…
Everything was open when I was there on 4-30
LovetoVacation said…
Just reading to learn more about how Cancun is doing. My biggest concern is that when we travel, the ten of us traveling will be the only one's there on May 31-June 7. If anyone just returned from Cancun would you let us know how the nightlife is? Is it dead and lonely? We will be at the Riu cancun.
CancunCanuck said…
I know, I know, I am slow in responding, please forgive me! Thanks for all your support (ping pong kid, you are so passionate, thank you!). Now that things seem to be improving, hop on that plane and help support the local economy! Everything should be back to "normal" very soon, I suspect (though don't have confirmation) that the bar closures will be reversed sometime this week, but even without the big bars, the party is always on!)
lilycat said…
I got married this past Saturday and have been really looking forward to going to Cancun for my Honeymoon. We just pushed our date back a month so instead of leaving May 7th we're going June 4th. I know the virus is not going anywhere, so I figure why let it ruin my dream of going to Cancun with my Hubby. I've been there before and believe me it is well worht it. One of the most relaxing and beautifull places in the world. We had the option to change destinations like Hawaii,Jamaica, etc. but we wouldn't have it. If you've never been to Cancun, you will see what I mean. It is a paradise. I agree about the media blowing things out of proportion. They're nothing but Drama queens. Bad stories make money. So that's what we are seeing on T.V. That's why I don't get my news from those media whores. I rather get it from real people like you that are not in it for the buck. We're just giving each other a hand. I'm not so worried about catching the flu because statistically it is pretty unlikely, not impossible, but unlikely. I'm more concerened about Chichen Itza, Islas mujeres , or Xcaret closing their doors. Can someone that's been ther recently give me the update on that please. Thanks for all your input.
juncajkids said…
Hi... we are going to Cancun the first week of June. and have heard some of the bars and major clubs are closed?..Can you please tell me if Coco Bongo and Daddy O's are closed or if they will be open by then. Its really sad how this have been sooo blown out!..This is our second time going to Cancun and we are really looking forward on coming back,, but it just seems like the news always has "just" the worst!..So its nice to get a personal veiw of what is actually happending out there!.. please let us know so we can have something to look foward too....Thank you again
beachprincess said…
We have just returned from Cancun. We were there 5/10-5/17. As always the weather was perfect, 85, beautiful breeze, rained on us one day for about 10 min. We were at the Sun Palace along with another couple. Occupancy was around 20%. We basically had the resort and the beach to ourselves. We had enough people to play volleyball. We ventured to the party area, Daddy o's, Senior frogs, etc,. They were open, but almost no wait to go in. At Coco Bongo's there was a line, but the rest of the places we just walked right in. We also went to the Margaritaville, Pat O'Briens, Bubba Gump area. Margaritaville was closed. We tried to go into Bubba Gumps but were met at the door at 9:45 on Sat.night and told they were closed. We had just laid out $100 for drinks at O'Briens, I guess Bubba didn't need our money. The mall that was adjacent was closed on Sat by 10pm. We are in our 40's, like to party, but not into all the craziness, so it was great for us. If you like the massive crowds you might be dissappointed. We saw absolutely no one that was sick, no one wearing masks, etc. The only problem we saw were the workers, taxi drivers, waiters, hoping the tourist will continue to increase so they can feed their families. We (WHO, CDC, Media) have done a huge injustice to the people of Mexico who depend on tourist for their livelihood. We did our part, we ate, drank, bought souvenirs, and tipped generously. Thank you Cancun for being everything a vacation should be.
beachprincess said…
A note to lilycat. We went to Isla Mujeres on Thursday. It will again be everything you could ever want. They offered snorkeling, scuba, dolphins, all the regular tours. Congratulations and enjoy your honeymoon in paradise.
landatownsend said…
My daughter and her group of senior trip friends just returned from Cancun on Monday June 1st. They had been there since May 25th. Three of the kids came off the plane and went to the doctor. They all had flu symptoms and one had a rash. They are confirmed to have the flu, not told if swine flu, but told it is the flu. They were sent home with face masks, Tamiflu and a 5 day quarantine. I have my daughter at home and am keeping tabs on her. No symptoms yet. I thought all this was over or I never would have sent her down there. Don't get me wrong they had a wonderful time but now this is happening and they brought it back to Louisiana.
Michael said…
Hope all is well with your daughter. Since this site has been the best reports from actual visitors of Cancun, please keep us updated. Where specifically did they go? Have they in fact been diagnosed? And why is your profile down??
Thanks
Frank Tocco said…
I'm am American living in Cancun and there still is not 1 confirmed case of swine flu in Cancun. Not one! I was watching CNN the day the announcer mistakenly said,
"there are 9 confirmed cases in Cancun...uh...Mexico city rather..." and now the media has run with it and it is all this.

My friends that work in the 3 major hospitals here in Cancun assure me there are no cases here. zip, nada...and the 9 cases in Mexico City is 9 out of 27,000,000 people that live in that city, the Odds of being struck in your lifetime by lightning(Est. 80 years) 1/5000. That meand in a city of 27,000,000 people, 5400 people will be struck by lightning.

9 out of 27,000,000=.0000003 chance of getting the swine flu.

So calm down people and stop buying every story you hear on the news. Maybe the people that work here in Cancun are not worried because they don't see the problem as it is sold on CNN. Americans are starting to believe everything they hear just because they saw it on TV.
Wake up!
CancunCanuck said…
Frank- While I agree with you that there is very little risk of comign here and that the media has made this an "infodemic", I do want to be honest in stating that there are cases in Quintana Roo. Since the beginning of swine there have been 71 cases in the state, most of them south near Chetumal, but there are definitely some here in Cancun. I am not arguing or trying to suggest that there is danger here, but I do want to offer full disclosure to readers. The number of cases is very, very small and there is very little danger, but we can't deny that the cases exist. I appreciate your passion for Cancun, I share it, and people certainly can come down without fear!
Noelle said…
Thank you for this information! I've been trying to find accurate info about traveling to Cancun. It may be a bit soon to tell, but I am planning to come for vacation in January 2010. I'm 25, but my dad is tweaking out about swine flu and wants me to cancel... Any thoughts on how it'll be this winter? I will continue to check your articles and really appreciate the info!
CancunCanuck said…
Hi Noelle,
I've just posted an update on the situation here (this post is very old!), tell dad to relax, there is nothing to worry about. You're probably in more danger just going to work or school. :)

Here's the update from Sept. 16....

http://www.cancuncanuck.com/2009/09/swine-flu-ah1n1-cancun-september-update.html

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