The government of Querétaro has ordered Mexicans who returned to that state from the United States in a large convoy of vehicles to go into home quarantine for 14 days to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
Accompanied by police, military personnel and members of the National Guard, 276 families from the Sierra Gorda region of Querétaro as well as people from people Hidalgo, Guanajuato and Michoacán returned home on Thursday after crossing into Mexico at Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, in a convoy of more than 500 vehicles.
The Querétaro government said in a statement that Querétaro families who entered the country with the convoy must remain in home quarantine for 14 days “as part of the protocols implemented due to the pandemic.”
The migrants had registered to return home for the Christmas-New Year vacation period as part of the Programa Paisano (Compatriot Program) in which authorities facilitate the transit of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. and Canada.
(The program is carried out annually to provide security to Mexicans returning home for the holidays, and encourages them to travel in convoys escorted by security forces.)
No other states have announced that Mexicans returning home must go into quarantine even though the United States has recorded far more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country in the world.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell this week ruled out any possibility that the federal government would ask Mexicans returning home and foreigners entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.
The coronavirus point man said that doing so wouldn’t do much to help Mexico get its coronavirus situation under control.
“The intensity of the epidemic today is comparable in almost all countries,” López-Gatell said after describing national borders as “geographic accidents.”
He added that having “dozens or even hundreds of thousands of people of any nationality” entering the country “doesn’t really make any difference.”
Travelers with the virus would be a minority, the deputy minister said. “Even if 600,000 people travel, the proportion who possibly could be sick with Covid or contagious … is very small because among other reasons people traveling are generally in good health, they feel well.”
The absence of any quarantine requirement makes Mexico an attractive destination for some travelers, and some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, such as Puerto Vallarta and Cancún, are set to receive an influx of both foreign and domestic tourists during the end-of-year holidays.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s pandemic continues to rage. The Health Ministry reported 11,799 new cases on Thursday, increasing the accumulated tally to 1,289,298. An additional 718 fatalities lifted the official Covid-19 death toll to 116,487.
Both the case tally and death toll are widely believed to be significant undercounts due to Mexico’s low testing rate. Results of a serological survey presented this week suggested that more than 30 million Mexicans have been infected.