Mexico skeptical over new travel restrictions

Restricting travel or closing borders is of little use in response to the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, said Mexico’s deputy health secretary.

Hugo López Gatell said some of the measures other countries have taken are “disproportionate” to what the existing scientific evidence shows, the news agency Reuters reported.

“It has not been shown to be more virulent or to evade the immune response induced by vaccines,” she said Saturday on Twitter.

“Travel restrictions or border closures are not very useful measures. They affect the economy and well-being of people.”

After López-Gatell’s statement, PAN Senator Lilly Téllez launched strong criticism of the undersecretary, calling him a “charlatan.” Through Twitter, she vowed that he will serve as secretary of the Public Commission in the Senate of the Republic, and announced that he will summon Gatell to appear.

“We have to talk about your lies, Hugo López-Gatell. Now I am secretary of the Health Commission in the Senate; You will be summoned to appear and I will be waiting for you with experts in the field. I challenge him to a public duel: the charlatan and the scientists,” reads Lilly Téllez’s tweet, in Spanish.

The discovery of the variant has sparked global concern and a wave of bans on travelers from southern Africa and a plunge in financial markets.

The World Health Organization has classified Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa, as a variant “of concern” though has cautioned countries not to hastily impose travel curbs, saying they should take a “scientific and risk-based approach.”

Since the pandemic began, Mexico has reported more than 3.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 293,000 deaths.

On Sunday, 13 cases of the new variant were found in the Netherlands and two each in Denmark and Australia.

Dutch health authorities said the 13 cases of the variant were found among people on two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday.

Authorities had tested all of the more than 600 passengers on those two flights and had found 61 coronavirus cases, going on to test those for the new variant.

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