Schools See Rise in COVID-19 Cases; Health Conferences to StopBy Rodrigo Brugada | Wed, 06/16/2021 - 13:44
After a year of online classes, earlier this month Mexican schools welcomed students back on a voluntary basis. But a week after the return to in-person classes, authorities are reporting some COVID-19 cases at schools.
The closure of schools and in-person learning facilities has had an enormous impact on the education of a whole generation, with possible ramifications spanning to the long-term, as stated in a press release by UNICEF. Earlier this month, Mexican schools opened up in an effort to provide students with a somewhat normal conclusion of the academic year. In-person facilities returned to a new normal with established protocols and health safety measures, such as widespread access to hand-washing facilities and a gradual approach towards complete return, among others. This return to in-person schooling is optional. While in-person classes might be better for students, they are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading the infection if they live with unvaccinated persons.
A week after schools returned, COVID-19 cases have begun to surface. According to the Federal Educative Authority of Mexico City (AEFCM), there are six confirmed cases in students to date. And while the persons involved have been reported to health authorities and are now isolated, there is a possibility that the disease has spread. As such, the schools involved, in collaboration with the health authorities, have started epidemiologic control measures to detect any anomaly. The affected children will still have remote learning available, just like their peers who opted out of in-person classes.
The Health Ministry, by presidential decree, has decided to stop the daily health briefings led by Deputy Minister of Prevention and Health Promotion Hugo Lopez-Gatell. The rationale behind this decision is that the country is now in a low-contagion stage, akin to the scenario seen during last year’s first weeks of the pandemic. Mexico has kept a steady decline in confirmed cases for twenty weeks and, while there has been a slight increase in cases in June, most of these cases correspond to states with higher community spread, such as Baja California Sur or Quintana Roo.
For his part, deputy Lopez-Gatell urged the population to acknowledge that even if the briefings have stopped, the pandemic has not and pointed to the importance of the National Vaccination Program. He also explained that the current pandemic will likely enter one of two possible scenarios. In the first, COVID-19 will keep on as an endemic disease and behave seasonally as many other respiratory diseases, such as influenza. In the second, COVID-19 will enter a prolonged interruption in its spread, hinting at a possible complete interruption in transmission, thus rendering the disease unable to infect more people and dying down on its own.