Hondurans urged to remain on guard for Covid-19 as they celebrate Christmas

Tegucigalpa, Dec 24 (EFE).- Officials and public health experts said Friday that Hondurans should continue to observe pandemic precautions over the Christmas holiday.

“We must use bio-safety measures as a first line of defense to avoid Covid-19,” Dr. Henry Alvarenga told Efe, arguing in favor of mask-wearing and maintaining social distance.

Since March 2020, coronavirus has claimed 10,430 lives in this Central American nation of 9.9 million people.

Alvarenga said that holiday travel and gatherings carry the risk of spurring an increase in Covid-19 inflections, especially with the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

“Though there are not so many people hospitalized, there are always infected people and they travel to communities, villages or municipalities, so the virus spreads more quickly, he said.

Despite the absence of any confirmed cases, the physician said he was sure that Omicron “is already in Honduras” and described the new variant as “much more transmissible” than Delta, albeit apparently less lethal.

“The use of masks is one of the principal measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Wearing a mask protects society, when you don’t wear a mask you are showing that society, your friends and family really don’t matter to you,” the Sinager emergency management agency said this week.

Honduran health officials issued a reminder to the public Friday that adults who have had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are now eligible to receive a booster three months after their second shot and no longer need to wait another month.

Retailers are seeing many more holidays shoppers than they did during the 2020 Christmas season.

“The sales have been much better than last year,” Waleska Ordoñez, an employee at a children’s clothing shop in Tegucigalpa, told Efe.

And to the relief of merchants, the Nov. 28 presidential election was not followed by the disturbances that occurred in the wake of the 2017 ballot.

“That year (2017) was ugly because people didn’t go out for fear of violence,” Ordoñez recalled.

The June 2009 military coup that toppled reformist President Mel Zelaya opened the door to a protracted political crisis which saw an explosion in violence and mass emigration.

Many feared unrest in connection with last month’s election, but Xiomara Castro, standard-bearer of the leftist Libre party and wife of Zelaya, won a convincing victory over ruling party candidate Nasry Asfura, who conceded without protest. EFE ac/dr

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