Covid-19: Mexico reinforces vaccination due to the advance of omicron but rules out travel restrictions

Coronavirus test in Mexico.
Coronavirus test in Mexico.JORGE ALVARADO / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO (Europa Press)

The advance of the new and contagious variant of covid-19 is causing countries to re-draw their artillery. The United States, where omicron is already the dominant one in the country, announced this Tuesday exceptional measures such as free tests and reinforcement of medical personnel. In Europe, Spain registers a new peak of infections while the Government of the Netherlands already prepares a new confinement for mid-January. Mexico, for its part, still does not register a flood comparable to other countries according to official data. There are 23 infections of the new variant spread over three states. In any case, international expansion has already put the Government on guard as well. After a meeting organized by the State Department, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced on Tuesday that a reinforcement of vaccination is underway, but no harsh measures such as confinements or travel restrictions are being considered at the moment.

The same message, between caution and optimism, was also launched on Tuesday by the head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, who ruled out the closure of activities in the face of the Christmas holidays. “In case we see an increase in infections, hospitalizations, we will give all the guidelines to the population.” The capital concentrates the largest number of cases, 16, and has already started the vaccination campaign for the third dose destined, for the moment, for the elderly residents of three of the 16 municipalities of the city.

The official data feed the optimistic caution of the authorities in Mexico. The peaks registered in other countries characterized by the rapidity of the contagion of the new variant – 73% of the cases detected in the United States and close to 50% in Spain – are not comparable at the moment. In addition, Mexico has 83% of its population vaccinated with the complete scheme, in the absence of the third booster dose. The Mexican rate is higher, for example, than the US (72%), Spain (79%) or regional neighbors such as Colombia (54%). Since the third wave registered in September, the contagion curve has been decreasing as well as hospitalizations. At the end of this Tuesday, the occupancy rate for general beds is 15%, and 11% for beds with a fan.

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The official figures, in any case, have been surrounded by controversy in recent days due to a slight lag in infections recorded by the Government with respect to some international platforms. The Undersecretary of Health and spokesman throughout the pandemic, Hugo López-Gatell, stepped out on Tuesday pointing directly to the different health organizations in a message posted on their social networks. “Public and private health institutions have the obligation to notify the Government of Mexico, through the National Epidemiological Surveillance System, about cases of covid-19 and genetic sequencing studies. Failure to comply is a violation of the General Health Law ”. The Mexican surveillance system suffered, especially during the first wave, severe criticism for the underreporting of cases.

In the almost two years that the pandemic has already spanned, Mexico has been one of the countries that has taken the least extraordinary measures, without ever having reached the confinements experienced in much of the world. Its entry policy into the country has also been one of the most lax. Today it only requires travelers to fill out a health form. Independent analysts have recommended, especially since the advance of vaccination, that the Government adopt the pattern of most countries, which require the complete vaccination scheme to allow the entry of travelers.

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned this week about the danger of omicron, which despite being of a lower lethality circulates more quickly than the previous ones: “It is probable that those vaccinated and those who have been cured of covid become infected or reinfected ”. Adhanom even recommended that the Christmas celebrations be canceled. The Mexican response to the WHO warning has for now been to distance itself from the more restrictive versions. López Gatell pointed out this Tuesday morning that “Europe at the moment has been in a very intense transmission process for two months and a week. This process has led to new measures and the appointment of the WHO director is contextualized in this circumstance ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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