Mexican student fears 'freak' reaction when he returns to NZ

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

A Mexican student who is due to return to New Zealand in two weeks says he is worried people will "freak" on his arrival, following the swine flu scare.

Luis Solano, 23, will fly back to Wellington in two weeks after spending a few months' break in his home in Mexico City.

Mr Solano, who will continue his studies in Wellington, last night told the Herald from Mexico that he is worried he will be stopped at the airport when he returns.

"I don't know if people will be okay or freaked."

With just over 100 people confirmed dead in Mexico, Mr Solano said people continued to take precautions, wearing face masks and keeping away from crowded areas.

He said there had been an initial rush to buy face masks - with people covering up just to go to the supermarket - but says people are calmer now.

"I just saw it on the news - it's controlled now - everything is under control, it's not a big deal," he said.

"We were worried when we first heard about it - we were scared. [But] the president just spoke on the TV and calmed us down."

Mr Solano said he was looking forward to seeing his Kiwi girlfriend, who only recently returned from Mexico.

Labour list MP Kelvin Davis - who is expecting a Mexican intern student to work in his Wellington office - says he is not worried about the student being affected, but is prepared to take precautions if necessary.

"I spoke to him [yesterday] morning. I asked him what's the feeling on the street and he said people are taking it seriously.

"They're buying up large with those face masks [and] people are bunkering in - not going to big events, just staying inside."

Mr Davis said the student - in his mid-20s - will arrive on Saturday, to complete his studies at Victoria University in Wellington.

Mr Davis said the student, who lives outside Mexico City, was in good health but precautions would be made on his arrival.

"He's fine - I don't think they're in a panic or anything. But I'm aware of what three days can bring - the situation could escalate."

"If he starts coughing, I'll have a word with him to see a doctor - the last thing we want is the whole of Parliament to come down with swine flu."

- NZ Herald

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