Who is that Masked Person: The Use of Face Masks on Mexico City Public Transportation During the Influenza a (H1N1) Outbreak
10 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2009
Date Written: July 4, 2009
The use of face masks to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases in a public setting is controversial. At the height of the influenza epidemic in Mexico City in the spring of 2009, the federal government of Mexico recommended that passengers on public transport use face masks to prevent contagion. The Mexico City government made the use of face masks mandatory for bus and taxi drivers, but enforcement procedures differed for these two categories. Using an evidence-based approach, researchers collected data on the use of face masks over a two-week period. In the specific context of the Mexico City influenza outbreak, these data showed gender difference in compliance rates among metro passengers. Moreover, there was not a significant difference in compliance with mandatory and voluntary public health measures where the effect of the mandatory measures was diminished by insufficiently severe penalties, the lack of market forces to create compliance incentives and sufficient political influence to diminish enforcement. Voluntary compliance was diminished by lack of trust in the government.
Keywords: A(H1N1), swine flu, influenza, pandemic, pubic policy, mask use, public transport, health policy
JEL Classification: H51, I18, J28, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation