Gather 'round the camp fire, folks.
It was just yesterday that I posted abut the “must have” items, and added a couple “Not so distant Future “must haves”: hand sanitizer and N95 face mask.
Well guys… turns out that for me that distant future was today.
Swine flu is spreading at an alarming rate here in Buenos Aires. You didn’t need a rocket scientist to figure that out: Populated city, fairly popular tourist destination combined with non existent public health plan will do that.
We went from 10 to 100 cases in a day, and from that... who knows? Remember that Argentina is the land of misinformation, which is our government’s most powerful tool. All we know is that the number are going up exponentially and that 25 schools in Buenos Aires have closed so far.
So I’m driving to the Buenos Aires University today when I hear on the radio: Due to reports of Swine flu in the University of Buenos Aires, authorities are considering closing up the campus. An Architect teacher is infected and the class she teaches was suspended, her classroom is kept closed”
I still had to go, but since I had a N95 mask in my bag I decided to use it as an extra preventive measure. Given the amount of flu and other bugs flying around, it sure was a good idea, why take the risk?
Inside the ruined building ( yes, it truly is ruined, broken and dirty) everyone seemed to be sick, of course it’s flu season and everyone is sick, but the mask was comforting.
A total of two persons asked about the mask. One was another teacher that had a bit more information about what had happened.
Apparently the teacher that got sick got infected by a student that had traveled to Mexico not long ago, she said that I shouldn’t bother with the mask since chances of getting sick aren’t that big.
Another kid asked if the mask was due to me being sick or because of everyone else. I told him it was others I was worried about, I was perfectly fine. He told me he was sick himself , and so was ½ the people sitting around us, all coughing and visibly sending spit to the air in spite of their efforts to control it.
I bet more than a couple wished they had a mask themselves.
SO I’m feeling pretty dorky by now. I didn’t look around much, but I did hear people around me answering calls from worried relatives, wondering how things were inside the university, given the news of the swine flu being spread there and the possibility of closing the campus.
As I exit the building, I see an improvised billboard, several students and teachers gathered around it, moving their heads in denial, touching their faces with concern and a few “you’ve got to be kidding me” comments.
Keeping it short but using most of the words written there, the billboard read:
“FADU authorities are worried about the spreading of swine flu in ciudad Universitaria (campus). We’ve contacted medical experts and they told us that anyone feeling sick should go to a hospital and get checked by a doctor.
The university lacks the supplies needed for the minimum amount of maintenance and hygiene in bathrooms and school grounds in general.”
I felt a bit less like a dork for wearing a mask after reading that. Got into my car and left.
Do what you feel you should do and don’t give a damn about what other’s may think. That’s what I learned today. Oh! And if you are in a crowded place where swine flu is spreading, don’t be shy and wear a mask.
Also, if you’re planning on getting one to keep handy in your bag, get the one with a valve(3M rated N95), it helps when running up and down stairs and breathing a bit more heavily. The air goes out through the valve a bit faster, and that helps.
People in a Mexico Subway