A HUMAN rights worker is trapped in Mexico City, unable to use public transport because of swine flu.
Ben Leather, 25, from Treflach, near Oswestry, said he had been in the city for four days before he realised the epidemic had struck.
He had noticed more and more people wearing surgical masks but at first thought it was because of pollution in the city.
His mother, Jacky Leather, said yesterday: “He’s working for the charity Peace Brigades International which protects human rights workers. He’s there for a year. He was only supposed to be in the city for two weeks and then go out to Chilpancingo which is about a three-hour drive away. He was going to go by bus but PBI are not allowing them to use public transport, they are very health and safety conscious.”
“But now he’s stuck because he cannot travel on public transport, the whole city has shut down. H ealth wise he’s fine.”
Ben, a graduate of Liverpool University, said: “I took the metrobus to work last Friday and noticed that many people were wearing surgical masks. At the time I presumed that this was because of the high levels of pollution in the city.
“Since then the number of people wearing masks has risen rapidly, and I’d now say that two thirds of the people out in the city in public are wearing masks, as well as all officials. In fact the police and army were handing out basic masks in many parts of the city over the weekend.”
Ben said he only became aware of the flu epidemic on April 24.
“Things have got worse since then, all bars are shut, whilst restaurants and cafes are only allowed to sell food ‘para llevar’ (to take away). People have been advised to stay clear of the metro and, really, there is nothing to do.”
Mrs Leather said: “He’s doing a lot of reading and they were able to borrow some bikes to go for a ride, but all the cafes and bars are shut.
“I’m not too worried, I think the swine flu has been hyped up, initially we were worried when we heard about the deaths in Mexico.
“I’m not worrying, he’s with an organisation which is very cautious and has private health insurance.”
Ben, who has also worked in East Africa, once worked with Communities First in Plas Madoc, Wrexham.
Another man, Daley Bosher, 21, of Hampton Road, Oswestry, is in Mexico visiting his girlfriend, and was also largely unaware of the flu until the military started handing out surgical masks. He has left Mexico City and says there is no alarm on the south coast.