The IMSS has expedited over 600,000 employee incapacity authorizations due to the COVID-19 variant Omicron, representing the absence of 9 percent of the Mexican workforce. The permissions double the issued for Delta contagions but are expected to drop sharply throughout February.
As Mexico experiences its highest COVID-related temporary incapacities for work authorizations (ITT), the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) expects these to increase throughout January.
“Fifty-two percent of the work authorizations have been issued for men and 48 percent for women. People between the ages of 20 and 29 years old are the most affected age group, meanwhile the industries with highly affected workforce are tourism, health and services,” said Mauricio Hernández, Director of Economic and Social Benefits, IMSS.
The IMSS reported that the impact of the fourth COVID-19 wave caused by the Omicron variant began in the tourism industry, affecting employees in Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo. Soon after, contagions among the service and health industries started to increase since its personnel do not have contactless working options.
“At the IMSS alone, 33,000 incapacities were issued last week for those working in the medical and administrative areas,” said Hernández.
The subsidies granted by the IMSS for the lost wages of the working population that became ill with Omicron are estimated to total MX$1,200 million. This is due because companies are not obligated to pay the wages for ill workers that have COVID-19, as it is not an occupational-caused disease, thus becoming the IMSS responsibility to guarantee 60 percent of the salary to the worker after the fourth day of incapacity.
However, as the Ministry of Health and other health experts announced the COVID-19 quarantine period reduction to seven days due to the Omicron variant causing shorter contagious gaps, the ITTs and subsidies granted by the IMSS are expected to decrease by the end of the contagions peak in February.
“As health experts worldwide have confirmed, infection by the Omicron variant results in a shorter gap period between exposure to the virus and the beginning of symptoms in those infected. It also results in a shorter contagious period, according to CDC data there is no risk after a five-to-seven-day period. A recent report by the University of Bristol Aerosol Research Centre found that the virus loses 90 percent of its contagion 20 minutes after becoming airborne, further confirming the need for a shift to open spaces and to constantly ventilate closed spaces. The study awaits peer-review,” reported MBN.