Mexico returns to “normal” life

Mexico emerged this week from a five-day national shutdown prompted by the outbreak of swine flu -- influenza A (H1N1) -- pressing ahead with normal life for the most part, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, Brazil and Argentina confirmed their first cases of the flu, which has now spread to 26 countries, killed 46 people and reportedly made more than 2,350 ill.

Restaurants, movie theatres, bars and businesses across Mexico were allowed to open on Thursday, and students returned to schools and universities for the first time in two weeks. The authorities also said that sports fans will be allowed to attend football matches this weekend, ending a policy that had teams playing in otherwise empty stadiums.

In Geneva, the World Health Organisation said it is possible that a third of the world’s population, or about two billion people, could become infected if the flu outbreak turns into a two-year pandemic. Independent experts agreed that the estimate – based on past outbreaks — was possible but pointed out that many people would show no symptoms.

People with chronic illnesses are at greatest risk for severe illness from the flu, along with the elderly and young children. So far, most of those with the virus have been young adults who have recovered quickly.

In Asia, health officials said the region must remain vigilant, stepping up cooperation to produce vaccines and bolstering anti-viral stockpiles. So far, the virus has largely spared Asia, with only South Korea and Hong Kong having confirmed cases.

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