Cancun coronavirus latest: increase in the number of COVID-19 infections

01/06/2021

While the rest of Mexico controls the pandemic, Cancun and Quintana Roo are facing a "third wave" of COVID-19, as recognized by the government, and have become a red focus in the midst of the incessant arrival of international tourism. So far, Quintana Roo, in the Mexican Caribbean, is the only state in the country still in orange color (high risk) in the epidemiological traffic light, due to the fact that it is facing an increase of contagions, mainly among people between 24 and 46 years of age, a situation which, according to the Mexican Health Ministry, is due to the fact that it is going through a third wave of contagions.

As of May 28, the state registered 2,770 deaths and 26,752 positive cases of coronavirus, with a higher incidence in the municipalities of the northern zone, among them Benito Juarez, which hosts Cancun. In view of the risk of the virus going back to red (maximum risk) and thus returning to confinement and the closing of non-essential businesses, the government of Quintana Roo ordered emergency strategies to limit mobility, the reduction of capacity in public places, and the application of stricter measures in the public transportation system, considered one of the main sources of contagion.

However, in the opinion of tourists and local citizens, both in the city and in the hotel zone of Cancun, the application of sanitary measures has been relaxed in closed public spaces such as restaurants and transportation. In shopping malls and public parks, it is common to observe large concentrations of people, among them people without masks, in addition to the fact that the healthy distance is not respected and basic protocols such as temperature taking and application of antibacterial gel are not complied with.

In a report released this week in Mexico City, the General Director of Epidemiology of the Mexican Health Secretariat, José Luis Alomía, stated that Quintana Roo "is facing a third wave of the pandemic". He pointed out that, in coordination with the local government, stricter sanitary measures would be implemented, including restrictions to mobility in public spaces.

Lack of responsibility

In an interview with Efe, a funeral services executive in Cancun, Angel Rodrigo Baeza, said that deaths from COVID have increased in recent weeks. "Currently we are a little high, we attend three or two families a day only for deaths due to COVID," said Baeza, a worker at one of the 10 funeral homes operating in Cancun.

For him, the causes of the increase in positive cases and deaths are related to the lack of surveillance by the authorities in high-risk areas. "It is a part that the government has to see, I also as a citizen have noticed this lack of interest in carrying out operations or any urgent call to avoid overcapacity in public transportation", he said.

For the worker "there was a lot of disinterest" in a state in which the tourist sector stands out and millions of families depend on it. "We have all lacked responsibility in taking care of ourselves and taking the necessary measures, but also the authorities failed to sanction the businesses that did not comply", he added.

Less strict measures

For Anny and Daniel Norgaard, a young couple from Denmark who recently arrived in Cancun on vacation and plan to spend a month touring Mexico, the measures in the country are less strict than in other places in the world. "I see that there are a lot of people who use the mask and it seems that they are well informed, compared to other countries, if you are walking alone you don't have to use the mask unless you are with other people," said Anny in an interview with Efe. But for her husband Daniel, in Cancun, the sanitary measures are less strict than in other countries they have visited.

"People feel a bit relaxed, some use the mouth cover, some don't, you can see that people are very relaxed, it can be good and it can be bad," she said. He recalled that in Denmark "the restrictions are stricter, but here it is like looser (relaxed), there can be many people in the same place, restaurants are open, small stores are open, so I think the restrictions are less and you can do more things, of course, there is the risk of contracting the disease".

High risk

Governor Carlos Joaquín González announced that Quintana Roo will remain in orange (high risk) until June 6, when elections will be held in which 11 municipal presidencies and federal deputies will be elected in the state. In spite of the announced restrictions, a series of promotions offered by restaurants to celebrate International Hamburger Day caused long lines outside fast food establishments in several points of the city, which resulted in the closing of establishments and the application of fines.

Locally, the vaccination of people of different age ranges accumulated some 325 thousand. But in spite of these factors, Cancun's international airport maintains an average of 200 arrivals and departures per day, with increases during weekends, especially international flights that are still looking for a rest in the jewel of the Mexican Caribbean.