It seems these days all we hear and read about on the media is related to the coronavirus. Each passing day brings more news about new cases and deaths around the world. The panorama is quite discouraging. People are starting to panic and stocking up on food, water, toilet paper, face masks, and cleaning supplies. Mexico is no exception.
One of the hardest-hit industries is tourism. Flights departing or arriving in China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy have been restricted or even suspended. The governments of several countries are trying to find the best solution to contain the virus from spreading and this seems to be the first logical step.
But what is this coronavirus and how is it affecting tourism? Let’s see what it is and if we should worry about it when traveling to Mexico.
Disclaimer: This website does NOT provide medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding this disease.
What Is the Coronavirus?
You may have heard two different terms: coronavirus and COVID-19. The first one is the virus and the second one is the disease. In other words, coronavirus is the virus that causes COVID-19.
Since it’s very recent, too little is known about it. What we do know is that symptoms may appear in 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
Health authorities are studying and monitoring the outbreak since it began a few months ago. The disease is mainly spread through respiratory droplets. A theory suggests you can also become infected by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Studies suggest the most vulnerable groups are elderly people and those with respiratory/cardiovascular diseases.
Are There Any Cases in Mexico?
Yes. Mexico is among the Latin American countries with confirmed cases. As of March 7, 2020, 7 cases have been confirmed by health authorities. Coincidentally or not, all of them had been to Italy.
The cases confirmed are located in the states of:
- Mexico City
- Estado de México
There are possible cases in the following states, although they haven’t been confirmed yet.
- Nuevo León
How Is All This Affecting Tourism in Mexico?
At this point, it’s evident there will be repercussions due to the outbreak. It’s just a matter of time. What needs to be done is to assess the damage that will be inflicted and try to minimize it.
For starters, Mexico hasn’t been affected at the same level Europe and Asia have. The situation shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it hasn’t been deemed necessary to restrict flights or close tourist attractions like Italy has done. There were rumors about canceling the Feria de San Marcos in Aguascalientes, one of the most important fairs in the country, but authorities have denied that. There was even a petition in change.org requesting the cancellation of the event, but it seems it was not successful.
However, there is one important thing to consider. Most tourists visiting Mexico come from the U.S. A few days ago, there was news about President Trump analyzing closing the Mexico-U.S. border to contain the disease. If the border were closed, then flight restrictions would follow suit. This would have a disastrous impact on the Mexican tourism industry. I hope it doesn’t happen. We’ll have to wait and see.
Should I Cancel My Trip to Mexico?
Many people are scared to travel because of the news and wonder if they can cancel or postpone their trip, including Mexico. Airlines normally charge their customers for making changes to their itineraries, but they’re currently offering flexibility to either postpone their flights or change the destination without paying anything extra.
However, we have to keep one thing in mind. This only applies to countries where a state of emergency was declared such as China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. This is not the case for Mexico. Since no state of emergency has been declared, you will most likely have to pay to make any changes to your trip. Contact your airline and see what options there are in case you want to cancel.
What Can I Do Then?
First of all, don’t panic. There have been numerous epidemics in history. This is not the first nor will it be the last time. Remember SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009?
Experts say the death rate is very low. Many people who got infected made it through.
If you have already booked your flight and hotel for the upcoming weeks, but you would like to cancel, please follow up with the airline or hotel. Unless a state of emergency is declared, you will probably have to pay a penalty for canceling. Don’t take my word for it.
On the other hand, if you haven’t paid for anything yet and you’re concerned about the disease, then don’t travel. Your peace of mind is important.
Whether you travel or not, experts recommend the following:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds frequently. If you don’t have any water or soap on hand, then use a sanitizer with a 60% alcohol content.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Maintain at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.
- Don’t wear a face mask unless you’re sick or your doctor recommended you do it.
- Get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of fluids to keep your immune system strong.
- Avoid cruise ship travel since there is an increased risk of infection.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- Above all, stay informed and follow your doctor’s advice.
The coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Many industries have been impacted. We don’t know how long it will take for everything to go back to normal. Experts say they expect to have a vaccine in no less than one year from now.
It’s important to be alert, but not to panic. Panic and fear make us more vulnerable to believe fake news and make impulsive decisions.
We will make it through. We have to be positive and take the necessary precautions. Don’t let this keep you from living your normal life, including traveling within reason.
What do you all think? Are you traveling in the upcoming weeks? Did you even consider canceling your plans? Let me know in the comments below. See you soon!
Update 3/13/2020. The number of confirmed cases increased to 26. The newly affected states are Puebla, Querétaro, Durango, Nuevo León, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo. Given the circumstances, I think it’s better to wait it out. New evidence suggests we may not present any symptoms, but we could still be carriers and pass the disease on to other people. We have a social responsibility as travelers. This is not the end. We will just have to postpone our plans.
Update 4/7/2020. Cases have increased dramatically. You can check out the latest statistics here. This page gets constantly updated.
Update March 2022: More than 50% of Mexico’s population has already been vaccinated. The number of deaths has increased a little compared to the previous two months, but overall, it’s lower than other bad months since the pandemic started. The number of cases has also been decreasing steadily.