For years the constant flow of immigrants from our southern border with Mexico has been of great concern, allowing thousands of undocumented individuals into the US every month. It is why President Donald Trump has time and time again asked for assistance from the Mexican government and to help secure the borders of both our nations. However, the Mexican officials have been less than cooperative.
But now, suddenly, in the face of a worldwide pandemic, Mexico is considering closing its border with the US or at least implementing stricter security measures.
According to several Mexican health officials, they are worried that if the border is left unchecked, they will soon have an outbreak on their hands because of American visitors.
Mexican health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in a news conference on Friday, Mexico wouldn’t bring the virus to the United States, rather the United States would bring it here. The possible flow of coronavirus would come from the north to the south. If it were technically necessary, we would consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance.”
And he might not be too far wrong. According to the known count, as of Monday, there were only 53 cases of COVID-19 in Mexico and no deaths. The US, on the other hand, has reported 4,141 cases and 71 deaths.
Tijuana business chamber official Julian Palombo says stronger borders on the Mexican side would help to prevent further spread. “It makes sense to build a wall, but a public health wall from over there to here to avoid the risk of possible infections.”
“Like others consulted by Reuters, Palombo bemoaned the lack of checks at busy land crossings into Tijuana, or in nearby airports. He added that face masks and hand sanitizer were in short supply on both sides of the border,” Reuters reported.
However, it is thought by many that the infestation of COVID-19 in Mexico is much worse than currently reported.
For starters, testing for the virus is pretty much nonexistent. It has been reported that only about 500 tests have been issued nationwide, and those have primarily done only on people who have recently traveled to “high-risk countries” or who have been in direct contact with known cases. Furthermore, only 32 locations in the entire country are adequately equipped to perform such tests.
This leads the head of internal medicine at the ABC hospital in Mexico City, Fransico Moreno Sanchez, to believe “there must be many more cases” in the nation. He also thinks the government is a massive risk by not being more concerned, saying that when, not if, an outbreak happens, it will be “brutal.”
And we have to agree.
As of last week, the President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was still walking around at campaign events, kissing babies, shaking hands, and telling people hugging was fine. He has been actively dismissing the pandemic saying, “The misfortunes, the pandemics… are not going to do anything to us.” And he added, “You have to hug, nothing is going to happen.”
In addition, government officials have imposed no travel bans, even from nations like Spain and Italy, where cases are spreading like wildfire.
While some companies have become concerned and canceled larger events, most go on, such as the Vive Latino music festival in Mexico City that was attended last weekend by more than 100,000 people, as well as the two-week-long Festival de Mexico en el Centro Historico that is still planned for later this month.
Sporting events go on as usual, and most colleges and schools will stay in effect until March 20 at the earliest, according to the El Paso Times.
And in border towns, where would-be immigrants congregate in tent camps by the thousands, it’s even worse. In these places, such as Matamoros across from Brownsville, Texas, basic amenities like running water is hard to come by. Nearly all basic supplies, including food and medical care, are brought in from the US, which, as we mentioned before, only increases their risk of infection.
Should an outbreak occur here, it will be uncontainable, putting people on both sides of the border at considerable risk.
And yet, government officials don’t seem worried. Unless you are talking about an American spreading the virus, then it’s ‘let’s close the border and fast.’ Funny, that it would take something like this to get any action from them, yet years of drug cartels and corruption have had no effect.