Mexico reports 3,494 new COVID-19 cases as tourists return to beaches

File photo of a man with COVID-19 in an ambulance, in Monterrey, Mexico on Jun 12, 2020.

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s health ministry reported 3,494 new confirmed coronavirus infections along with 424 additional fatalities on Saturday (Jun 13), bringing the total in the country to 142,690 cases and 16,872 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the official count.

It has not stopped foreign visitors from visiting Mexico’s Caribbean coast, with its popular beaches gradually reopening to tourism with new sanitary measures in place.

“I’ve been stuck in New York City in my apartment for three months, so I decided that on the beach somewhere open was probably a good call,” said web designer Sam Leon, 31, after arriving Saturday at the airport of famed resort town Cancun.

Others were similarly undeterred, even as Mexico reported record infection levels in recent days and in certain areas is at the peak of the pandemic.

“We travel all the time … we’re really not super concerned,” said Canadian national Brad Kendell, 32, who lives in Panama. He had been in Mexico City with his wife last March when Panama put the country on lockdown.

They chose to decamp to Cancun for a “change of pace” while waiting for travel restrictions to ease.

About 20 tourists splashed in the water and relaxed on the sand at Hard Rock Hotel, which re-opened on Jun 8 along with 16 other beachside resorts in Cancun. Hard Rock said it installed hand sanitiser stations, ramped up cleaning and is enforcing distancing rules at the pool and beach areas.

Although hotels can allow guests into the water, public beaches remain closed.

“The most important thing right now is to revive the state’s economy, but we have to be careful with the health of our people,” Carlos Joaquin, governor of Quintana Roo state which includes Cancun, said last week.

A full recovery for Mexico’s tourism sector – which represents 8.7 per cent of gross domestic product and employs 4.5 million people – looks far off.

Mexico registered only 86,000 foreign visitors in April, down from 2.8 million the same month the year before, according to official data.

Z24 News

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