Coronavirus
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Tuesday that face masks are no longer essential.

COVID vaccine registration for children 12 and up begins this week

Health minister also advised that the coronavirus stoplight risk map will be discontinued

Children aged 12 and over will be able to register for a COVID-19 vaccine shot starting this Thursday, the federal government announced Tuesday.

The government said earlier this month it would offer vaccines to children under 15 after previously asserting that inoculating younger adolescents and kids – with the exception of those aged 12 t0 14 with underlying health problems – was not necessary.

Speaking at President López Obrador’s Tuesday morning press conference, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell stressed  that “all healthy and unhealthy children” aged 12 and over will now be eligible for a shot. Youths (or their parents) will be able to register their interest in getting vaccinated on the government’s vaccination website.

López-Gatell, who has led the government’s pandemic response, also said that 90% of adults and 87% of the eligible population have been vaccinated. “This allows us to have significant protection against serious cases,” he said.

All told, some 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Mexico, including over 45 million booster shots.

For his part, López Obrador said the the country’s coronavirus outbreak is “subsiding almost completely” and that the stage of the “serious pandemic that left us so much pain and suffering” has ended.

In other COVID-19 news:

• López-Gatell said that the use of face masks is no longer essential but qualified his remark by adding that that they can still be useful in enclosed spaces.

“We’re not going to declare an end to the obligatory use of face makes because we never said they were mandatory. But we can say that the use of face masks is not essential at this time,” he said.

• A mask mandate in Baja California no longer applies after Governor Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda announced Sunday that the mandate would end Monday.

“The obligation of using one in public spaces, whether they are open or enclosed, will no longer exist,” she said.

Several other states have dropped mask mandates, but only for outdoor public areas.

• López-Gatell announced Tuesday that the federal government will not issue any new coronavirus stoplight maps given the reduced transmission risk. The one currently in force, on which all  32 states are low risk green, will expire on May 1.

The coronavirus czar noted that the stoplight map, which has been a feature of the government’s pandemic management since the middle of 2020, has been solid green for the past seven weeks. The risk level is not expected to increase in the coming months, he said.

Each stoplight color – maximum risk red, high risk orange, medium risk yellow and low risk green – was accompanied by recommended economic and social restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, but state governments have the power to devise and implement their own pandemic rules.

• Mexico’s official COVID-19 death toll rose to 324,134 on Monday with five additional fatalities reported. An additional 140 new cases were added to the accumulated case tally, which stands at 5.73 million. There are just over 4,000 estimated active cases, whereas at the peak of the omicron-fueled wave in January there were over 300,000.

With reports from Reforma, Milenio and El Financiero

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