Monday, June 17, 2024

Health organization: don’t reopen if virus continues spreading

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned Mexico not to reopen the economy if the Covid-19 pandemic is still growing because doing so will likely accelerate the spread of the disease.

Speaking at a press conference, PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa said “there is no magic formula” to help countries decide when to lift coronavirus restrictions, “but if transmission is still growing” – as is the case in Mexico – “that’s a sign that economic activities must not be immediately started.”

If Mexico’s economy is reopened too soon, there is a risk that transmission of the virus will speed up, he said.

Barbosa said the federal government needs to provide more support to economically disadvantaged people so that they are not forced to leave their homes while the risk of infection is high.

He also said that the government needs to ramp up coronavirus testing in order to detect more cases and limit transmission within the community.

The government has resisted doing either, insisting it won’t take on new debt to provide such support, and arguing that tests are expensive and have no value.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne also warned countries in the Americas – currently the world’s coronavirus epicenter – against opening up their economies before the pandemic is under control.

“Think twice before relaxing social distancing measures,” she said, adding that they are “our best tool” to control the virus.

“We have to be careful. My advice is not to open too quickly or we will run the risk of a resurgence of Covid-19 that could erase what we’ve achieved,” Etienne said.

In Mexico, federally mandated social distancing measures concluded on Saturday in favor of state-based restrictions.

Every state in the country except Zacatecas was allocated a “red light” on the federal government’s stoplight system but some state governments have decided to ease restrictions anyway.

Jalisco and Mexico City are among the federal entities that have allowed some nonessential businesses to reopen.

Mexico’s gradual return to what has been dubbed “the new normal” is going ahead even as Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to steadily rise.

More than 93,000 people have now tested positive for the disease while the death toll exceeded 10,000 on Monday.

Mexico has the 15th highest official case tally in the world, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University, and the seventh highest death toll behind only the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Brazil, France and Spain.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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