Business owners in Mexico City’s Chinatown reported that their sales fell by as much as 70% over the weekend after the first cases of coronavirus in Mexico were confirmed on Friday.
Anna Torres, owner of a shop that sells grilled ice cream desserts, told the newspaper Milenio that she had never seen Calle Dolores – the single street along which Chinatown runs in the capital’s historic center – so empty.
“It’s alarming. … People aren’t coming to consume and when they do come, they ask me if we don’t have coronavirus here, that annoys me. … I don’t know if they’re joking but it affects me,” she said.
Roberto Olivera, who sells baozi – steamed buns stuffed with fillings such as pork or sweet beans – said that sales had never been so slow in the 20 years he has been working in Chinatown, which is usually bustling on weekends with visitors and locals alike.
He said that before the news that the arrival of Covid-19 – as the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, late last year is known – to Mexico was likely, he sold between 150 and 300 baozi per day. However, in recent days Olivera has only sold about 50 a day.
“It worries me. Now that there are [coranavirus] cases in the city I’m afraid that my products won’t sell,” he said.
Alfredo Saldaña, a resident of Tampico, Tamaulipas, visiting Mexico City for the first time, told Milenio in Chinatown that when he heard that Covid-19 had reached the capital, he bought a face mask and anti-bacterial gel to protect himself against the possibility of being infected.
He said that he was visiting Chinatown to take photos and walk around but explained that he had no plans to eat in any of the Chinese restaurants located there. His disinclination to patronize the eateries on Calle Dolores was evidently shared by others.
Chinatown restaurants were half-empty, Milenio reported, adding that some waiters could be seen cleaning the dining rooms as if to demonstrate to passersby that they take hygiene seriously and there was nothing to be afraid of.
However, no amount of cleaning is likely to be sufficient to wash away people’s prejudices.
Mauricio Rodríguez, an epidemiologist at the National Autonomous University, told Milenio that in “critical situations,” the surfacing of discrimination and ignorance is hard to avoid.
“Fake news has emerged on social media that everything that comes from China [places you] at risk of catching the virus and that’s false. The only way Covid-19 can be transmitted is via direct contact with the illness,” he said.
Five cases of Covid-19 have now been confirmed in Mexico but there is no evidence that the virus is spreading within the country. All of those infected contracted the virus in northern Italy, where hundreds of cases have been detected.
More than 3,000 people have now lost their lives to Covid-19, the vast majority in China, where the virus was first detected in December 2019.
Source: Milenio (sp)