A Christmas crisis in Mexico City as Covid red alert declared

Mexico City, Dec 19 (efe-epa).- A Covid-19 red alert was re-imposed on Saturday in Mexico City, which is facing its worst moment of the pandemic and now also a Christmas crisis with all non-essential shops closed until Jan. 10 .

“This could have been done a month or two ago. Unfortunately it is happening right now, with the Christmas season around the corner, so we all have to look for our daily bread or cheaper things,” lamented Beatriz Heredia, a retiree who came to the historic center to buy medicines.

The new emergency measures will cause losses of 48,554 million pesos ($2.4 million) in sales, warned the National Chamber of Commerce.

It could also bankrupt eight out of 10 restaurants, according to the National Chamber of the Restaurant and Seasoned Food Industry.

But the red alert of the epidemiological traffic light, the highest level of risk, has been activated because Mexico City has a hospital saturation of almost 85 percent of its general beds, more than at any other time during the pandemic.

Of the 57 public hospitals treating Covid-19 patients, 12 are almost completely full, a figure that rises to 27 when taking into account those with 90 percent or more occupancy, according to the information system of the Serious Acute Respiratory Infections Network.

“The government indicated what we had to do, we did not obey. So right now we are all paying the consequences, both people who are not in the commercial sphere, and the people who make a living from it,” Heredia said.

The shops in the historic center of Mexico City, filled the day before with Christmas shoppers, are now closed up, despite the persistent flow of passers-by and street vendors.

The red alert announced by Mexico City and its neighboring State of Mexico only allows the sectors of food, energy, telecommunications and public works and services as well as restaurants with take-out food, pharmacies and repair shops to operate.

Merchants reacted with solidarity, but questioned the strategy of the government of the capital and the country for holding off on declaring the health emergency for weeks, when a rise in infections was evident.

Even so, they also recognized the responsibility of the citizens, who still crowded public areas Saturday morning despite the presence of security.

“People do not pay attention. They come with complete families, they bring babies, they bring children without face masks, without any protection,” Ana Bejarano, a worker in a food business in the area, said.

The government of Mexico has recognized that the country is experiencing its second wave of the pandemic, with more than 117,000 deaths and 1.3 million cases, and daily increases that exceed 10,000 infections.

Of these figures, Mexico City concentrates more than 282,000 cases and almost 20,000 deaths.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had insisted that there would be no hospital saturation in Mexico City, acknowledged Saturday the situation in the country’s capital.

“It has been terrible to face this pandemic, but we will get out of this. Now it had to be decided by the doctors, to declare Mexico City on a red light due to the number of infections and to prevent the pandemic from overtaking us,” he said at an event public in southeastern Yucatán state.

But López Obrador affirmed that “fortunately this is not what is happening throughout the country,” specifying that only eight of the 32 states show an increase in infections.

The president, who has questioned the mandatory use of masks and “authoritarian” measures to stop the pandemic, defended a “balanced” response between health and the economy.

“Action in health has to be balanced. That is, facing the pandemic as it has been done and also reactivating our economy. We cannot only dedicate ourselves to attending the pandemic, to shutting down economic activity completely in the country because it would be very serious,” he said. EFE-EPA


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