Saturday, December 2, 2023

Coronavirus threatens to shelve Mexico travel plans for Spring Break

Beach destinations such as Cancún and Los Cabos will likely see a downturn in Spring Break visitor numbers due to the outbreak of coronavirus and the fear that the spread of the disease generates.

NYU, Columbia and Cornell universities in New York are urging students not to travel abroad this month, The New York Post reported, adding that Syracuse University is advising its students against both domestic and foreign travel “to avoid the possibility that your freedom of movement may become restricted.”

Students at many other universities in the United States, the largest source country for visitors to Mexico, are also likely to opt against Spring Break travel south of the border even though there are just eight confirmed cases of Covid-19 here, and there is no evidence that the virus is being transmitted within the country.

Fear about the infectious disease, rather than Covid-19 itself, is currently the “biggest problem” faced by the travel industry, said United States travel agent Claire Schoeder.

For those who do decide to travel to Spring Break destinations in Mexico, authorities are planning to implement protocols to protect against possible infection with the new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told a press conference that authorities from Mexico, the United States and Canada would meet this week to discuss plans to protect travelers.

“In these conversations with the United States and Canada … we will be developing protocols … that enable us, in advance, to protect each other,” he said.

The deputy minister said that the three countries will make a commitment to help travelers avoid Covid-19 but didn’t cite any specific measures they would take.

Spring Break dates run from late February to mid-April, but March is the peak month.

Meanwhile, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) announced Tuesday that it is postponing its global summit that was scheduled to take place in Cancún in April partially due to the global coronavirus outbreak. WTTC president Gloria Guevara said that the summit will now be held in October.

She said that she was optimistic that there wouldn’t be a widespread outbreak of Covid-19 in Mexico, asserting that the country is not as susceptible as others because of its warm climate. However, Guevara conceded that jobs in Mexico’s tourism sector, a large contributor to GDP, could be lost due to a downturn in tourism related to the health crisis.

While Mexico currently has only eight confirmed cases of Covid-19, Mexico City infectious disease specialist Francisco Moreno Sánchez believes that the real number is much higher, while Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, predicts that new cases linked to the growing spread of the virus in the United States will show up in Mexico and other Latin American countries in coming weeks.

Of the confirmed cases, five patients have recovered well and three of them will end their 14-day isolation period on Tuesday, Health Ministry Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía Zegarra said Monday. Two people confirmed to have Covid-19 required hospitalization but one is now in stable condition, he said.

The second was a case identified on Tuesday in Puebla.

Source: Luces del Siglo (sp), The New York Post (en), Travel Pulse (en), Milenio (sp), Expansión (sp), EFE (sp) 

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