While hotels offer discounts to infected guests in the Yucatan peninsula, in the Pacific the entrance to the beaches has been prohibited.
A third wave of COVID-19 fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant is hitting two of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations on opposite coasts: Los Cabos in the Pacific and Cancun in the Caribbean.
In Cancun, cases have skyrocketed to the point where the Hard Rock hotel has reserved two floors for guests with symptoms. Some hotels say they offer discounts for those in quarantine until they are no longer contagious.
In Baja California Sur, where Los Cabos is located, authorities are again rushing to add beds to overloaded hospitals, which reached 75 percent capacity last week before improving to 62 percent on Thursday. The beaches of the city of La Paz were ordered to be closed, although local media show that many are ignoring the order.
Since Mexico has not limited who can fly during the pandemic, both domestic and international tourists have flocked to tourist areas. In June, 557,400 passengers landed in Los Cabos, an increase of 15 percent compared to June 2019. Cancun received just over 2 million, slightly below pre-pandemic levels but much more than the 175,000 visitors for the last year.
“The Delta variant has a strong presence in the Yucatan Peninsula, particularly Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, where around 80 percent of the new tests are now Delta,” said Alejandro Macías, who supervised the H1N1 epidemic in Mexico in 2009.
Like much of Latin America, Mexico has been hit by COVID-19, and is among the most affected countries in the world. A devastating second wave in January saw paramedics driving for hours in search of hospital beds and oxygen tanks. The country’s poor testing means that even the government admits the deaths are far higher than the official number, with an estimate putting them at 540,000.
Despite the promises of special care for those who contract the virus during the holidays, some people tell a different story. Lindy Ray from Durant, Oklahoma, traveled to Cancun in early June to celebrate her honeymoon with her husband Trey. “We were so excited to be able to spend time alone on the beach,” she said in a message.
Everything went as promised and they had a great time. But they had started to feel bad when it was time to take the mandatory COVID test to return to the United States. It was positive.
They were escorted back to their room, where they had to stay another week and agree not to leave. The hotel claimed that it would discount their rate, but charged them almost the full rate.
“We could only order room service, there were only five to six items we could choose from,” Ray said. “We asked for medicine several times and they brought us three of the six things we asked for. The room was not cleaned after we tested positive. We ran out of toilet paper for a few days. “
What is happening on the coasts is also reflected in Mexico City, where Health Secretary Oliva López declared Monday that the Delta variant is now predominant. Deaths remain relatively low, with about 69 percent of the city’s adult population having received at least one vaccine, he said on television. Hospitals are filling up: occupancy increased from 7 to 28 percent in just one month.
The capital has administered more vaccines as a percentage of the population than any other area except the border states of Baja California and Chihuahua, where a campaign to reopen the border with the United States led to a huge boost in vaccine application.
Throughout Mexico, only about 31 percent has received the least one dose, according to the Bloomberg tracker. In June, since a peak was detected, the person in charge of the health strategy, Hugo López Gatell, declared that the federal government will send more vaccines to tourist areas such as Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo. So far, about 65 percent of adults in Quintana Roo and 50 percent in Cancun have received at least one dose, according to government data.
On Thursday, Mexico added 16,244 new coronavirus cases, marking the third day in a row that cases have seen the largest daily increase since January. Deaths increased by 419, also the highest in nearly two months.
There are no plans for new closures, COVID strategy czar López Gatell said during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s daily press conference on Tuesday. “People are tired after so many months of the pandemic,” he said, adding that the government is prepared to add beds where necessary. “We cannot ask people to reduce their mobility as we did at the beginning.”
Capacity limits increased in Cancun
Despite the increase in infections in Cancun, 270 hotels received an exemption from the 50 percent occupancy limit, allowing them to operate at 70 percent of capacity, according to Roberto Cintrón, director of the region’s hotel association.
Quintana Roo’s economy depends almost entirely on tourism, Cintrón explained, so hotels have implemented strict sanitary protocols. “Tourists have a very different experience,” he said in an interview, coldly dismissing concern about the increase in cases.
“It is important to highlight that infections are occurring among local youth, ” he said. “We have enough hospital beds for them, if necessary. But it is not happening among tourists ”.
Source: El Financiero