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17 Apr 2020 | 11:17 AM UTC

Mexico: Authorities extend social distancing measures and business restrictions until May 30 /update 6

Health authorities in Mexico to extend social distancing measures and restrictions on nonessential businesses until May 30; follow authority directives

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MEX

Event

On Thursday, April 16, Mexican Undersecretary of Health Hugo López-Gatell announced that existing social distancing measures and restrictions on nonessential businesses put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be extended until Saturday, May 30. López-Gatell did, however, state that in municipalities where COVID-19 infection numbers are low these measures may be lifted on Sunday, May 17. Conversely, areas where there are a high number of infections, particularly inner-city areas, are likely to have increased measures introduced in the coming days to contain the spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, March 30, Mexico's government declared a health emergency after the number of cases exceeded 1000, which was originally set to end on Thursday, April 30. A suspension on all nonessential activities in the public and private sector is in effect as a precautionary measure. Additionally, events or meetings with more than 50 people are prohibited. The government has advised individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing medical conditions to stop working and strictly observe stay-at-home measures. Schools remain suspended until Monday, June 1, while bars, clubs, zoos, saunas, gyms, and cinemas have also been ordered to close in Mexico City.

Amid the restrictions, protests have been reported outside at least three factories in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) on Wednesday, April 15, and April 16. The employees are demanding the factories close following the deaths of some factory employees who were suspected of having COVID-19. López-Gatell previously stated on Friday, April 3, that 15 percent of nonessential businesses had not ceased activities despite government directives.

On Thursday, March 26, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez announced that Jalisco and seven other states including Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Michoacán, Colima, and Nayarit, will block flights from areas such as California (US) with high rates of COVID-19. The land border between the US and Mexico has been closed since Friday, March 20, until Monday, April 20. The closure will apply for recreational travel, while cargo, trade, and healthcare workers will still be allowed to cross the border.

Individuals who present respiratory symptoms after arrival into Mexico should call the Ministry of Health's hotline at (800) 004-4800, or text "covid19" to 51515 if in Mexico City. Individuals who are suspected of having COVID-19 will be quarantined for two weeks.

As of Friday, April 17, there have been 6297 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 486 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.