Thursday, June 13, 2024

Querétaro follows Mexico City’s lead, begins rapid testing for Covid

Querétaro has followed the lead of Mexico City and is now performing rapid Covid-19 tests to speed up the identification and isolation of positive cases while two other states have announced new coronavirus restrictions.

Health authorities in Querétaro began using rapid antigen tests at mobile testing stations and other healthcare facilities this week.

Government spokesman Rafael López González said that 1,500 tests per day are now being carried out in the state, where the risk of coronavirus infection is currently orange light “high,” according to the federal government’s stoplight system.

Querétaro’s introduction of rapid testing comes after Mexico City began its rapid testing program late last month.

The Bajío region state has recorded more than 23,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 1,650 Covid-19 deaths, according to state government data. López said that cases, deaths and hospitalizations all increased in November.

The state government announced stricter restrictions last Friday, reducing operating hours and maximum capacities for many businesses, but López warned that they could be tightened again.

In Puebla, which has recorded almost double the number of cases as Querétaro and more than triple the number of deaths, Governor Miguel Barbosa announced Friday that he was issuing a new decree that enforces tighter restrictions aimed at reducing new infections.

Until at least January 7, restaurants will only be permitted to open until 9:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 6:00 p.m. Sunday, he said. Their capacity is limited to 33% of normal levels. Operating hours of shopping centers will be reduced by two hours, meaning that they will now have to close at 9:00 p.m.

Puebla, currently a yellow light “medium” risk state, has recorded more than 42,000 confirmed coronavirus cases – the eighth highest total among Mexico’s 32 states – and 5,404 Covid-19 deaths, according to state government data.

The state’s Covid-19 positivity rate is almost 60%, a clear sign that authorities are not testing widely enough. Puebla’s case fatality rate of 12.7 deaths per 100 confirmed cases also indicates that a large number of infections are not being detected.

The national case fatality rate is 9.5, the highest among the 20 countries currently most affected by Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Accumulated Covid case numbers by state
Accumulated Covid case numbers by state. milenio

Authorities in Nuevo León have also announced new restrictions due to an increase in case numbers.

The state Health Ministry said that nonessential businesses will be required to close for the next three weekends. Restaurants are exempt but will be limited to delivery service. Among the businesses not affected by the rule are pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations. The Health Ministry also placed a prohibition on alcohol sales on Saturdays and Sundays.

Nuevo León, currently an orange light state, has recorded more than 105,000 coronavirus cases, according to state authorities. Only Mexico City and México state have recorded more.

The Covid-19 death toll in the northern state is 5,691 and and more than 1,100 coronavirus patients are in the hospital.

Health Minister Manuel de la O Cavazos said in late October that the risk level in Nuevo León is in fact “intense red,” not orange as the federal stoplight maps indicates. New infections and Covid deaths have only increased since then.

The federal government will present a new stoplight map Friday night and any changes will take effect on Monday. Officially, there are currently only two red light states – Chihuahua and Durango – and two green ones, Campeche and Chiapas.

The risk of coronavirus infection in the other 28 states is either orange light “high” or yellow light “medium.”

Each stoplight color is accompanied by recommended restrictions to slow the spread of the virus but some states have chosen to follow their own guidelines rather than those drawn up by federal authorities.

The president of the national restaurant association, Canirac, said that if red light restrictions become more widespread, there will be a risk that restaurant owners won’t follow them.

Highlighting that restaurateurs were hit extremely hard financially earlier in the year due to enforced closures, Francisco Fernández said that some won’t want to comply with any new restrictions that are imposed on them.

“There could be disobedience of [rules regarding] opening hours and capacities,” he said.

The Canirac chief noted that 90,000 restaurants have closed since the start of the pandemic and 400,000 jobs were lost in the sector.

The pandemic and associated restrictions have also taken a heavy economic toll on other industries such as tourism. Data published this week showed that more than 1 million small and medium-sized businesses have closed permanently since the middle of last year, mainly due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: Animal Político (sp), Milenio (sp), El Financiero (sp) 

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