Coronavirus
San Pedro de la Cueva San Pedro de la Cueva closed its doors to outsiders when the pandemic began.

Covid-free: 193 municipalities have escaped contagion by the virus

Being remote — and keeping outsiders out — has helped prevent infection

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A good strategy for minimizing the risk of catching Covid-19 in Mexico might be moving to a small, rural community — if you can get in, that is.

According to the federal Ministry of Health, 193 small municipalities in six states have managed to remain completely free of Covid cases since the pandemic began. The state of Oaxaca heads the list with 172.

The other states with Covid-free municipalities, Chiapas, Puebla, Veracruz, Sonora and Tamaulipas, have far fewer that are virus-free but all display a similar pattern: relatively small populations, often indigenous, often with a percentage of the population scattered into even lower-density rural areas around the municipality.

In some communities, local and state officials also attribute the lack of cases to zero-tolerance policies preventing outsiders from entering.

In Puebla, only four of the state’s 217 municipalities do not have any Covid-19 cases: Axutla, Coyomeapan, Chigmecatitlán and San Juan Atzompa. All are small communities that are difficult to access, located in forested areas or mountainous zones.

Similarly in Veracruz, the five municipalities that have stayed free of the disease are all in remote locations in the northern and central sierras, with low-density populations dedicated to farming, whose residents only leave when absolutely necessary.

In Tamaulipas, health specialist Daniel Carmona said that the state’s two municipalities without cases, Palmillas and San Nicolás, “put the brakes” on Covid arriving thanks to their remoteness.

Some officials say their communities remain without cases because they closed access to outsiders early on.

Edna Rubal, mayor of San Pedro de la Cueva, Sonora, said her community made the decision to close the town right at the pandemic’s beginning, when the state was assessed at red, the highest risk level on the national coronavirus map. Hers is one of the three municipalities in the state that has remained virus-free, along with Átil and Bacadéhuachi.

Oaxaca Health Minister Donato Casas said that many of the state’s Covid-free municipalities have remained that way because of their rural locations but also because they exercised discipline with anti-Covid measures from the beginning of the pandemic. For example, the remote community of Santo Domingo Tlatayapam, whose population is 132, closed the town to strangers and even outside deliveries.

In Chiapas, seven communities have managed to stay free of the coronavirus. In three of them — San Juan Cancuc, Maravilla Tenejapa and San Andrés Larrainzar — strangers are not welcome for now.

Despite residents in those towns not being required to wear masks or use hand sanitizer in public places (although the local government does follow other risk-prevention protocols), Covid is not a problem.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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