Group of people in Mexico with face masksAfter 24 surreal hours on the ground in Mexico, I’m on my way back out of the country. I had arrived in Monterrey yesterday for a conference of Mexican Hospitals, but the conference has been canceled due to the swine flu outbreak.


Here are my observations from my quick stay:


The mood and behavior of people has changed dramatically from yesterday; when I first arrived, only a few people were wearing masks. Today, well over half the people are wearing masks. If they don’t have masks on, they’re using bandanas and t-shirts over their mouth and nose. I’d estimate that 80 percent of the people in the Monterrey airport were wearing masks. On the street, not as many people are wearing masks. A lot of people aren’t wearing the masks properly, but they seem comforted by the fact that they have them or their bandanas perched on their head or around their neck.


The city seems like a set for a disaster movie with everyone wearing masks and avoiding crowds.  It certainly seemed to me that the onslaught of information from reporters all over the globe has put the local citizens on edge.


I know there have been some reports that the Mexican government has been a little slow to act in this emergency, but at least one local seemed pleased with the response. My driver from the airport said that the Mexican government has been very open in its communication, and he didn’t think that past administrations would have been as forthright.


One of the funniest observations goes into group psychology – during the normally uncomfortable period of lining up and boarding a plane, everyone was even a little more unsettled than usual brought on by the close proximity of strangers all wearing masks.  Of course, once on the plane, despite the quarters being even more confined, everyone seemed to let out a deep breath of relief.  In this case, most of us were probably just happy to be leaving Mexico behind.


About The Author

Laura Hilton serves as head of International Provider Network Development. Laura oversees all HTH international medical assistance operations and leads development of HTH’s international provider community and online databases from her office in London. Laura joined HTH in 2000 in the role of international provider recruitment and relations. She has extensive experience in emergency assistance operations and has developed medical evacuation plans for over 500 corporations. Fluent in five languages, she has traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the former Soviet Union to evaluate international medical facilities and design healthcare solutions for travelers and business expatriates. Laura is a graduate of Yale University with a B.A.

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