Mexico City 'exile' waits for all-clear

Simon Pierre
Simon Pierre
Former Dunedin man Simon Pierre has gone into "self-imposed exile" in his apartment in Mexico City as he tries to avoid catching swine flu.

Reports of swine flu surfaced first in Mexico which, as of yesterday, had 26 confirmed human cases, including seven deaths.

Reports have estimated more than 150 deaths were suspected to be a result of the virus.

Mr Pierre (28), who is in Mexico coaching and playing club rugby, found out about the flu outbreak only after he received a text cancelling his rugby training last Friday.

His flatmate, who worked for the French embassy, then came home and told him the flu had closed schools.

"Then mum rang [from Dunedin] and told me it was big news," the former Macandrew Bay man said.

He decided the best thing to do was stay at home and had spent most of the week watching DVDs and listening to music, although admitted the experience was starting to get a bit boring.

"I'm not going out at all, only to the supermarket. I'm trying not to catch this swine flu."

When he did go out in public he wore a surgical mask, as did most other people he saw.

"There is not much else we can do."

A lot of restaurants and shops were closed and the streets were much quieter than normal.

"Mexico City has 26 million people so it's like busy Christmas Eve shopping every day . . . but [now] the streets are fairly quiet."

Not a big Mexican television watcher or radio listener, even though he could speak Spanish, Mr Pierre was getting most of his information about the outbreak and what to do from New Zealand news websites.

He had lived in Mexico for about a year after deciding to do his "OE" in a country with a different culture and language and had enjoyed every minute.

Mr Pierre had previously lived in Auckland for nine years.

"It's been a bit of a challenge but I've never had a problem with crime and the people are very friendly and helpful."

Despite the flu outbreak he did not intend to head home to New Zealand and would "wait it out".

"It's a strange situation. I'm playing it by ear and we'll see what happens."

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