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27 Mar 2020 | 10:41 PM UTC

Mexico: Government enters phase 2 of COVID-19 contingency plan on March 24 /update 3

Mexico government announces phase 2 of the country’s COVID-19 contingency plan on March 24 and suspends all non-essential activities on March 26; Further spread of the virus to be expected

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Event

Mexico's government announced on Tuesday, March 24, that the country will enter phase 2 out of 3 of its COVID-19 contingency plan due to local transmission of the virus. Authorities have suspended all non-essential activities and banned events with more than 100 people. Sanitation and hygiene have also been intensified nationwide, and the public are advised to practice social distancing. A suspension on schools remains in place from Friday, March 20, until Monday, April 20 to prevent further spread of the virus. Public events have also been prohibited from Monday, March 23, until Sunday, April 19, as a precautionary measure. Bars, clubs, zoos, saunas, gyms, and cinemas have also been ordered to close in Mexico City. Meanwhile, security forces were deployed on Wednesday, March 25, due to calls on social media to carry out widespread looting in Veracruz.

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 with high rates of COVID-19. Local media reported on Friday, March 27, that the Ministry of Communications and Transportation has warned that national and international may be canceled nationwide. The land border between US and Mexico has been closed since 23:59 (local time) on Friday, March 20, until 23:59 (local time) on Monday, April 20. The closure will apply for recreational travel, while cargo, trade and healthcare workers will still be allowed to cross the border.

As of Friday, March 27, the Ministry of Health has confirmed 717 cases of COVID-19 nationwide, including 12 fatalities. Individuals who present respiratory systems after arrival into Mexico should call the Ministry of Health's hotline at 800 0044 800, or text "covid19" to 51515 if in Mexico City. Individuals who are suspected of having COVID-19 will be quarantined for two weeks. 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 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.