Hotels Become Hospitals: Win-Win for MexicoBy Daniel González | Thu, 05/14/2020 - 17:09
The Oaxtepec resort in Morelos will be converted into a temporary hospital to care for COVID-19 patients who do not have severe symptoms. The measure, announced by Zoé Robledo, Director General of IMSS, aims to alleviate the presence of COVID-19 patients in other hospitals, as well as to help boost the recovery of the tourism sector, one of the most affected by the crisis created by the spread of the virus in the country.
The Oaxtepec resort has 225 rooms divided into two executive hotels, which will have a capacity of up to 450 mild COVID-19 patients. In addition, the resort will house an additional 150 healthcare staff members. Robledo said the Oaxtepec facility will be for “COVID-19 patients who do not have serious symptoms, young people with no other ailments, to prevent them from infecting someone else in their homes.”
Oaxtepec thus joins the vacation centers of Atlixco-Metepec and La Trinidad, which were converted into hospitals last May 7 following IMSS orders and the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City will also be repurposed to accommodate patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, the circuit will have 16 ICU beds. Mexico City, the most affected city in the country by the pandemic, has 72 hotels that have been made available to the medical and health personnel of the city. This sector is one with the highest percentage of infections. In total, there are 1,500 beds for doctors and nurses at the disposal of health personnel in the country’s capital.
The measure promoted by IMSS is a win-win for Mexico’s health sector, since in addition to relieving the pressure that the health system is suffering from the accumulation of patients in hospitals, it helps the city’s hotels cope with a crisis that has hit the tourism sector. According to data from INEGI, the number of international travelers who visited Mexico during March fell by 34.4 percent compared to the same period last year. According to a report in the newspaper El Financiero, the tourism industry has lost MX$500 billion (US$20.9 billion) since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, after the country decided to close its doors to tourism. Airlines, hotels and travel agencies head the list of losses in Mexico. The country had not seen this decrease in numbers since the crisis of 9/11. Even former President Felipe Calderón’s total closure of the country as a result of H1N1 cannot be compared. “This crisis cannot be compared to the one the country experienced in 2009 because of H1N1 influenza. It is getting worse every day and more hotels are closing, which is damaging the finances of tourism companies,” Braulio Arsuaga, President of the National Tourism Business Council, told El Financiero.