Juarez coronavirus: Chihuahua runs out of space for Covid-19 cases

03/11/2020

The governor of Chihuahua, Javier Corral Jurado, acknowledged this Monday that Chihuahua no longer has the hospital capacity to attend the high number of sick people in Covid-19. That same day in the afternoon, the State Health Council announced an urgent meeting to analyze and define new containment measures, since, he acknowledged, Chihuahua is going through an extremely worrying situation.

Ciudad Juárez coronavirus update: Mexican Consulate in El Paso invites you not to visit Juarez. Photo: EFE
Ciudad Juárez coronavirus update: Mexican Consulate in El Paso invites you not to visit Juarez. Photo: EFE

He acknowledged that "in Chihuahua, we no longer have sufficient hospital capacity, nor available beds. Even in the IMSS, the occupancy rate exceeds 90%". The situation is the same in private and public hospitals, which is why he urgently called for this meeting, as contagion continues to grow.

In support of this situation, on Sunday the Federal Government's Mobile Hospital was received in Chihuahua City and will have a capacity of 20 beds. A similar one was received last week in Ciudad Juarez.

This hospital will be installed outside the Hospital Central Universitario, on Rosales Street, in order to provide electricity, laundry service, oxygen and to be able to transfer patients to the Hospital to the tomograph and X-ray unit.

Dr. Gabriel García Rodríguez, Director of Emergency Operations Command of the Federal Government's Health Secretariat, indicated that the hospital has a capacity for 20 patients, and has stretchers, monitors, and ventilators as well as other necessary equipment and instruments.

A total of 14 people among doctors and nurses will provide care in this unit. In addition, through the Insabi, medical and nursing staff will be hired to reinforce the care of the hospital, which will be installed in a period not exceeding 72 hours. This hospital is manufactured with an external thermal canvas and an internal canvas that is totally washable and disinfectable. It has a specialized climate and filters that allow constant air change.

Ciudad Juárez coronavirus cases
Ciudad Juárez coronavirus cases

Most infections occurred in October

According to official statistics from the Chihuahua State Health Department, 45 percent of all confirmed Covid-19 infections in Ciudad Juarez occurred during October, as well as three out of every 10 deaths from the entire pandemic.

Ricardo Cortes Alcala, general director of Health Promotion, reported Saturday in a press conference that in the last week there was an increase in deaths nationwide and that according to the federal Health Secretary's figures, about 80 percent of the total deaths occurred in the state of Chihuahua.

In this regard, yesterday Dr. Mirna Beltrán, Chihuahua's Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, explained that this contribution was due to the deaths that were registered without a confirmed test that was Covid-19, but that it is estimated that they were due to the virus, which are not reported in the daily count of the State Government.

"We have two types of deaths, one is the death by Covid confirmed, who has a test confirmed to Covid, which are those that appear specifically in our daily reports. In addition to this, there is strict surveillance throughout the country, and in the State, of deaths that could result in Covid, which enter a committee and the entire process is done to certify them as Covid -which are those due to severe acute respiratory infection. Then, when counting and the probability that those deaths will be Covid, is that that week all the contribution that there were of deaths in the country, Chihuahua contributed almost 80 percent of those deaths," she detailed.

Ciudad Juárez coronavirus update
Ciudad Juárez coronavirus update

Mexican Consulate in El Paso invites you not to visit Juarez

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the binational dynamics in this border area. To prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Consulate General of Mexico in El Paso urges the Pasino community not to make trips to Juarez if they are not essential.

Through a communiqué, the consular headquarters reiterates the call -unpublished until a few months- for U.S. citizens and legal residents of the U.S. not to cross into Mexico in an unjustified manner, thus avoiding the risk of spreading the disease that has taken the lives of more than a thousand residents in El Paso and Juarez.

"For the time being, the Zaragoza-Ysleta, Jerónimo-Santa Teresa, Córdova-Américas, Paso del Norte, Fort Hancock-Porvenir and Guadalupe-Tornillo crossings have been subject to greater review by U.S. authorities, through a double inspection system and the reduction of pedestrian and vehicular lanes, which has resulted in longer than usual waiting times to cross the border," said Mexico's Foreign Ministry (SRE).

Both countries agreed in late March to partially close the border, to prevent non-essential travelers -basically tourists and Mexican shoppers- from crossing into the United States by land and transmitting the virus in El Paso.

However, U.S. authorities allow the return of citizens and permanent residents to their country, a situation that led thousands of Paseños to cross into Juarez for no essential purpose, increasing the risk of cross-border contagion.

Juarez coronavirus cases trend line. Source: Ministry of Health
Juarez coronavirus cases trend line. Source: Ministry of Health

New safety measures and exorbitant delays on bridges include more thorough inspections and education for non-essential travelers. CBP assures users that its officers will have the discretion to refer non-essential travelers to secondary inspection to further investigate the nature of their travel.

"We need people to think twice about non-essential travel and to ask themselves whether it is worth risking their lives and the lives of others. We believe these measures will discourage nonessential travel and reduce the spread of the virus," said CBP. The agency said that commercial supply chains, including road transport, are not subject to temporary travel restrictions.

"CBP remains firm in its commitment to facilitate the cross-border movement of life-saving food, fuel, workers, and medicines that are necessary to protect our nation," it reported.

The provisions that the U.S. government has taken prohibit access to tourists to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, allowing only citizens and residents to enter the country by land, except for some essential crossings of travelers with tourist visas.

Since March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been reducing personnel and operating fewer vehicle lanes during off-peak hours for users on international bridges, including U.S. citizens.