Mexico’s number of coronavirus cases is soaring, but the omicron-fueled fourth wave has not put a dampener on tourism activity in the coastal cities of Acapulco, Guerrero and La Paz, Baja California Sur.
Both cities were busy over the weekend as tourists and locals alike flocked to the waterfront, apparently undeterred by the ongoing surge in COVID cases, which have averaged almost 24,000 per day this month, according to official data.
Hotel occupancy in Acapulco was about 60%, the newspaper El Universal reported, adding that beaches were packed and the resort city’s coastal boulevard was busy.
The Arena Coliseo de Acapulco may have also been a fertile hunting ground for the virus as a lucha libre wrestling event was held at the venue on Saturday after being closed for two years due to the pandemic. Photos posted to social media showed an arena bursting at its seams.
Guerrero Senator Félix Salgado Macedonio was also in a festive mood, hosting a party at his Acapulco home to celebrate his 65th birthday. The senator, an alleged rapist and father of Governor Evelyn Salgado, live-streamed some of the festivities at his crowded house on his Facebook account. The controversial politician has a history of flouting coronavirus rules and recommendations: he held a massive birthday party a year ago in violation of restrictions.
Not everyone in Acapulco was in the mood for partying last weekend — dozens of people descended on the Acapulco zócalo, or central square, to access a free COVID-19 test. Streams of residents have made their way to the square to get tested in recent days, El Universal said.
There are 1,125 active cases in Acapulco, the state Health Ministry reported Tuesday, a figure that accounts for one-third of the 3,390 active infections across Guerrero.
Some 2,000 kilometers to the northwest is La Paz, state capital of Baja California Sur (BCS), which is currently Mexico’s coronavirus epicenter with more than 900 active cases per 100,000 people.
Tourists and residents flocked to the city’s seaside promenade over the weekend to stroll, ride bikes and roller-blade, El Universal said. Mask usage was far from universal despite the risk of infection as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads quickly in BCS and beyond.
“People are more carefree than in previous waves,” said Javier Martínez, who was exercising on the La Paz malecón.
Many locals and tourists no longer follow the virus mitigation protocols, he told El Universal, explaining that they don’t distance themselves from others or wear face masks properly.
La Paz currently has almost 5,200 active cases, state data shows, or almost 70% of all current infections in BCS.
At the national level, there are 285,713 estimated active cases after the Health Ministry reported an additional 17,101 confirmed infections on Monday. The active case tally will likely rise above 300,000 today as reported case numbers typically increase on Tuesdays in comparison with those registered on Sundays and Mondays.
Mexico’s accumulated case tally currently stands at 4.38 million while the official COVID-19 death toll rose by 59 on Tuesday to 301,469. Just over 9% of all cases recorded throughout the pandemic were detected in the first 17 days of January.
In other COVID-19 news:
• The surge in coronavirus cases continues to cause high levels of absenteeism in workplaces. One city where workforces are depleted is Mérida, Yucatán.
Iván Rodríguez Gasque, president of the Mérida branch of the National Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that there are large numbers of infected workers. He called on employers to strengthen measures to stop, or at least slow, the spread of the virus.
While absenteeism levels are currently high, Rodríguez said that businesses in the Yucatán capital are coping and would not be forced to close. He also called on employers not to pressure employees to come to work if they have COVID symptoms.
Yucatán currently has almost 6,300 active cases, according to federal data. It has the 11th highest infection rate among Mexico’s 32 states with almost 300 active cases per 100,000 residents.
• The use of face masks in enclosed public places and public transit in the port city of Veracruz is now mandatory.
Mayor Patricia Lobeira de Yunes announced the rule Monday in a video message but didn’t specify the punishment for non-compliance. She also announced a range of other measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Among them: a reduction of maximum capacity levels for businesses to 75% and the suspension of large municipal events.
Veracruz city is currently at medium risk yellow on the state’s coronavirus stoplight map, whereas the Gulf coast state as a whole is low risk green on the federal government’s map. Veracruz ranks 31st, or second to last, for active cases among Mexico’s 32 states with about 50 per 100,000 residents, but Mayor Lobeira warned that infections are on the rise.
• The condition of a four-year-old boy who was intubated in a San Luis Potosí hospital after contracting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill has improved.
State Health Minister Daniel Acosta Díaz de León said Tuesday that the child had been extubated and was in stable but delicate condition.
The boy who required mechanical ventilation suffers from Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious condition that affects the brain and liver.
The minister said Monday that infections among children were on the rise in the state.
San Luis Potosí currently has the third highest number of active cases on a per capita basis with almost 500 per 100,000 people. Only Baja California Sur and Mexico City have higher per capita rates.