After dragging feet, Mexico enters a new stage in virus fight

Tribune Content Agency

Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he’ll announce new measures to contain the spreading coronavirus after declaring a national health emergency, in a sign he is taking firmer action against the disease following weeks of being questioned for not acting decisively.

The health emergency, announced Monday night, extends the suspension of all non-essential activity by 10 days to April 30. While no curfew was ordered, the government said there will be strict application of the rule requiring the elderly and sick to stay home even if their work is considered essential. Other essential personnel could go to work on a voluntary basis, it said, without providing details.

Lopez Obrador, 66, has fielded criticism from some international health experts, and his support fell in polls, after he kept calling for life to continue as normal despite the spreading virus. He began to modify his tone last week, and Mexico switched gears with the emergency declaration after 1,094 virus cases were confirmed and 28 patients died.

“It’s important that we all help in carrying out these measures,” Lopez Obrador said during his morning news conference on Tuesday. “We’ll continue to work and prepare for a serious emergency, if that occurs, in order to save lives.”

Lopez Obrador said he’ll announce more health and economic measures on Sunday, without elaborating. He said businesses need to keep paying their workers throughout the next month.

The emergency was declared by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who has taken an outsized role in critical state matters during the current administration, such as negotiating last year to end a tariff threat by President Donald Trump by conceding to crack down on migration.

The emergency declaration also limits gatherings in Mexico to 50 people, and only when essential activities are being carried out.


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