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A quad is used to spray a disinfectant in public areas of Santa Catarina, Nuevo León. A quad is used to spray a disinfectant in public areas of Santa Catarina, Nuevo León.

Semana Santa is coming but there won’t be Easter vacation: health minister

Mexicans urged to spend holiday at home as virus cases rise to 1,688

The Semana Santa (Easter Week) school and work holiday begins next week, but Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell reminded the public on Friday that people will have to spend it at home in the continued effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“There are no vacations because there is an order to temporarily suspend all [nonessential] activities in the public and private sectors,” he told his daily coronavirus update press conference.

The epidemiologist said “if we don’t move around, the virus doesn’t move around and there isn’t transmission. Stay home, don’t go on vacation, stay where you are.”

He reminded the public that the goal of the mitigation efforts is to flatten the epidemic curve, or lower the rate of transmission so that infections are spread out over time rather than spiking all at once, and people must stay at home in order for that to happen.

There were 1,688 confirmed cases and 60 deaths from Covid-19 as of Friday evening, while 8,602 possible cases had tested negative and 5,398 suspicious cases were being investigated.

Mexico City has seen the majority of the deaths with 15, followed by Jalisco with sixand Baja California and Sinaloa with five each. Men represent 58% and women 42% of the confirmed cases.

Following recommendations by a coronavirus expert at the National Autonomous University and authorities in the United States that citizens wear face masks, López-Gatell said there is no evidence that the masks have been successful in slowing the spread of the virus in other countries.

But, he said, people can use them as an “auxiliary prevention measure.”

Proponents of the masks believe they lower the chances of transmission by people who are infected but present no symptoms.

“It’s common for waves of information to rise with the hope of finding alternatives [to physical distancing] … but the popularity of this information doesn’t necessarily correspond with the scientific soundness of evidence,” he said.

However, he said there is no harm in wearing face masks, but asked the public not to use N-95 respirator masks, which should be reserved for medical personnel.

As for the public’s response to the emergency declaration so far, López-Gatell was “satisfied,” but said that it was still too early to be able to observe the effects of the preventative measures on the spread of the virus.

He stressed that there’s still a long way to go before the end of the pandemic and that everyone’s cooperation is vital to mitigating its effects.

“It’s clear that no one is exempt from the risk [of infection]. We can’t give ourselves the luxury of discord, of believing that we can save ourselves individually. I’m making a call for patience … with an attitude of compassion and solidarity that will keep us united today and tomorrow.”

Sources: El Financiero (sp), La Journada (sp)

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