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Mexican Businesses, Schools to Reopen as Flu Scare Lessens


Mexican businesses that were closed because of the H1N1 influenza virus are scheduled to reopen Wednesday, as the country moves toward normalcy following the health scare spawned by the outbreak.

High schools and universities are to reopen Thursday, with elementary school children returning to classes next week.

President Felipe Calderon says that while the situation has stabilized, he cautioned that the virus is still present in the population and that people should take precautionary measures to prevent its spread.

Mexico has been the epicenter of the outbreak, which has had an impact on its economy.

Mexican Finance Minister Agustin Carstens says the outbreak has cost the economy at least $2.2 billion. Business leaders estimate that Mexico City alone lost up to $60 million per day during the past week as many venues were closed.

Mexico's government also has objected to measures taken by other countries to protect their citizens from the flu outbreak. Many countries advised their citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico, while airlines canceled flights and cruise ships bypassed Mexican ports.

China quarantined about 70 Mexican citizens, fearing they were infected. For its part, Mexico sent a plane to pick up its nationals who wanted to leave China. The government in Beijing also took reciprocal action. President Calderon says China's public health tactics are discriminatory, because none of the quarantined Mexicans exhibited any symptoms of the infection.

About 25 Canadian university students were quarantined for a week in northeastern China, and two U.S. citizens also are in isolation at a hotel in a suburb of Beijing.

China says its strict measures are in the interest of public health, but the precautions are seen by some as heavy-handed and controversial. Hong Kong's chief executive has apologized for the ongoing, week-long quarantine of hundreds of people at a local hotel where an infected Mexican guest had stayed.

Health officials in Texas have confirmed the first death of a U.S. resident with the H1N1 influenza virus. They say the victim was a woman who died earlier this week. Several days ago, a boy from Mexico died in a Texas hospital in what was the first such death in the United States.

The World Health Organization says nearly 1,500 cases of the infection have been confirmed worldwide, including more than two dozen deaths.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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