Crime and Violence

Military and police enlisted in the response to Mexican swine flu outbreak


Soldier distributes masks in Mexico City
Photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Military personnel were assigned to distribute surgical masks at the Mexico City airport and other strategic locations, as officials responded to a serious public health crisis in April. More than 1,384 people are believed infected —and nearly 90 are believed dead— in Mexico as a result of swine flu, a hybrid variant of multiple influenza viruses. 

On Sunday, April 26, Mexican military personnel from the Army (SEDENA) and the Navy (SEMAR) joined agents from the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) and the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT) in distributing blue surgical masks to help prevent the spread of the illness and trying to identify people possibly in need of medical attention. Previously, only PFP agents assigned to Medical Services were involved in distributing masks.

More than six million masks have been distributed nationwide since the outbreak was first detected in early April to reduce the spread of the disease. Schools, zoos, juvenile detention centers, and churches were reportedly closed and numerous public events (including soccer games) were cancelled in Mexico City and several states.


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