MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico City and the neighboring State of Mexico are suspending nonessential activities due to a surge of coronavirus infections and death that is quickly saturating hospitals, Mexico’s deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Friday.
The suspension will take effect on Saturday and last through Jan. 10, Lopez-Gatell announced at a news conference.
“The momentum of the epidemic in this region requires additional measures and we have come to the conclusion that extraordinary measures are required,” said Lopez-Gatell, who was flanked by Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and State of Mexico Governor Alfredo del Mazo.
Lopez-Gatell said the temporary suspension was aimed at limiting people congregating and traveling, which would help reduce contagion.
The new measures come after Sheinbaum declared a “COVID-19 emergency” in Mexico City last week.
Despite the warnings, Mexico City and adjacent State of Mexico, home to over 20 million residents, have witnessed frenzied holiday shopping, with people flooding shopping districts, buying Christmas gifts from street vendors and waiting in long lines to enter stores.
Mexico has reported 1.29 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 116,487 deaths as of Thursday though actual cases and deaths are thought to be much higher.
The capital city has registered over 19,000 deaths related to the novel coronavirus, and a fifth of Mexico’s confirmed cases.
(Reporting by Diego Ore and Anthony Esposito, writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Alistair Bell)