The federal government won’t restrict flights from the United Kingdom in light of the new, more contagious coronavirus strain circulating in that country, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Tuesday.
“The World Health Organization explicitly advises against shutting down flights from the United Kingdom because there is no evidence that this [strain] represents an additional threat,” he told reporters at President López Obrador’s morning press conference.
“… Stopping flights wouldn’t make a specific contribution to reducing the risk,” López-Gatell said.
The deputy minister said that the new virus strain, which U.K. authorities say could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original one, has possibly already spread widely around the world.
He acknowledged that there is evidence that the new strain is more contagious but said there is no proof that it causes a more serious Covid-19 illness, is resistant to vaccines or is not detected by Covid-19 tests.
Unlike many countries around the world, Mexico has not restricted flights from any foreign nation during the coronavirus pandemic. Neither foreign travelers nor Mexicans returning home are required to quarantine upon arrival in the country.
In contrast to Mexico, several countries in the region have decided to suspend flights from the U.K. They include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Canada and Peru.
The new strain was identified in the U.K. in September but authorities didn’t disclose that knowledge until December 14.
Meanwhile, the French embassy in Mexico has advised French citizens not to travel here due to the deteriorating coronavirus situation. (More new cases have been reported in December than any other month.)
The embassy acknowledged in a statement that there are no restrictions on French citizens entering Mexico but explained that the country’s coronavirus situation has worsened. The embassy “energetically advises against traveling to Mexico from France,” the statement said.
“The epidemic [in Mexico] has spread at a high speed for several weeks,” said Ambassador Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian.
“Many states of the country are at the maximum alert [level] and the hospital occupancy rate is concerning,” he said.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month warned U.S. citizens not to travel to Mexico, saying that there is a “very high level of Covid-19 in Mexico.”
But United States Ambassador Christopher Landau said subsequently that traveling in Mexico is safe during the coronavirus pandemic if one follows sanitary protocols established by the destination where one travels.
Mexico’s accumulated case tally currently stands at 1.32 million while the official Covid-19 death toll is 118,598.