It's a virtual life for flu-bound Mexicans

Churchgoers celebrate Mass via television. Congressional candidates campaign with real-time speeches on the Web. A magazine promises Internet tours through the real Mexico - the one with open museums and pyramids. And rock bands plan online concerts.

The H1N1 epidemic is creating a virtual Mexico.

With school canceled nationwide and many parents forbidding their kids to party, teenagers are logging a lot more time chatting on Facebook, Twittering and downloading music and movies from the Internet. So are many adults, especially after most business and government offices in Mexico City shut down on Friday for five days.


Catholic clergymen, one holding a Bible, wear masks as a precaution against swine flu as they enter for the start of a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Sunday, May 3, 2009


Two rock bands are making a go at reaching shut-in fans, announcing a virtual concert for today. Los Estramboticos, a Mexico City group, and Pastilla, a Latino band from the United States, will perform in a studio and broadcast it online. At least they can get exposure while Mexico's ban on concerts lasts.

But boredom was still not enough to lure many Mexican City residents from their homes on Sunday, 10 days into a flu outbreak that killed at least 22 people and sickened more than 560 in the country, most of them in the capital region.Athens

Normally packed churches were all but empty. Priests in surgical masks offered Mass before a handful of faithful - also wearing masks. Cardinal Norberto Rivera held a televized service from the Metropolitan Cathedral for those staying home.

Sunday also marked the official start of campaigning for the July 5 congressional elections - but the government urged candidates not to hold rallies where the virus could spread. So candidates turned to the Internet to reach a population afraid to join screaming crowds, shake hands or hold out babies for kisses.


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