MEXICO CITY - Two weeks after the first known swine flu death, Mexico still hasn't given medicine to the families of the dead. It hasn't determined where the outbreak began or how it spread. And while the government urges anyone who feels sick to go to hospitals, feverish people complain ambulance workers are scared to pick them up.
A portrait is emerging of a slow and confused response by Mexico to the gathering swine flu epidemic. And that could mean the world is flying blind into a global health storm.
Despite an annual budget of more than $5 billion, Mexico's health secretary said Monday that his agency hasn't had the resources to visit the families of the dead. That means doctors haven't begun treatment for the population most exposed to swine flu, and most apt to spread it. (...)
It remained unclear where and how the epidemic began, how it has spread, who it has killed or how fast it is growing. And the government has yet to take some basic steps critical to containing any outbreak, such as quick treatment of people who had contact with the victims.
In the town of Xonacatlan, just west of Mexico City, Antonia Cortes Borbolla told The Associated Press that nobody has given her medicine in the week since her husband succumbed to raging fever and weakened lungs that a lab has confirmed as swine flu.
No health workers have inspected her home, asked how her husband might have contracted the illness or tested the neighbors' pigs, she said.
Cordova acknowledged that her case isn't unique.
"We haven't given medicine to all of them because we still don't have enough personnel," he said.
Cordova said he couldn't provide information on the victims for reasons of confidentiality, but promised to eventually release a statistical breakdown. He said he couldn't provide that data now "because it's being processed."
Asked whether he could at least say how many of the 20 confirmed victims were men and how many were women, he said: "I don't have that information."
The government has insisted it acted quickly and decisively when presented with the evidence of a new virus.
But even as it did so, it acknowledged the outbreak began earlier than April 12, the date it had previously linked to the first case. Cordova confirmed Monday that a 4-year-old boy who was part of an outbreak in eastern Veracruz state that began in February had swine flu. He later recovered.
PD: Casualmente, justo hoy (es decir, 4 días depués de la alerta sanitaria) el gobierno anunció que el IMSS iniciará un operativo nacional para vigilar a familiares de infectados. ¿Y qué a nadie se le había ocurrido eso antes?