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In Mexican border cities, many fear virus is coming from US

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) – Adrián Alonso Gama lived life on either side of the border, till he received the coronavirus.

On weekends the 37-year-old truck driver would keep at his mother and father’ residence in Tijuana. Thanks to his U.S. inexperienced card, he lived in his personal place in San Diego in the course of the week, delivering beer and auto components across the American southwest.

Last week, Gama began feeling sick and returned to Mexico to be near household. He was recognized with COVID-19, changing into one of many greater than 1,700 confirmed coronavirus sufferers who make Tijuana second solely to Mexico City in infections, regardless of the border metropolis’s comparatively small inhabitants.

Citing a menace of the coronavirus from Mexico, the Trump administration has banned a whole lot of hundreds of individuals from crossing the southern border with emergency measures that prohibit nonessential site visitors and reject asylum seekers with out a listening to. At least one American border area is experiencing a spike in hospitalizations that some imagine is pushed by American residents who reside in Mexico coming to the U.S. for care.

But in Tijuana and different Mexican border cities, many medical doctors, well being officers and atypical residents fear concerning the illness coming within the different course.

San Diego – with roughly the identical inhabitants as Tijuana – has triple the variety of confirmed instances of COVID-19, at greater than 6,000. The state of California has about 10 instances as many individuals because the Mexican state of Baja California to the south – however reported greater than 20 instances the variety of instances. Mexico has a notoriously low testing fee, however that alone appears an inadequate rationalization.

Tijuana noticed its instances start to rise considerably in late March quickly after California shuttered many companies and ordered individuals to remain residence, stated Dr. Remedios Lozada, who’s in command of the Tijuana well being district. It seems that a lot of the surge got here from twin nationals and authorized residents like Gama, who wished to be nearer to household or reside extra cheaply in Tijuana in the course of the shutdown.

“There were a lot of people who emigrated here to Mexico,” Lozada stated. “That was when we began facing the higher number of cases.”

Tijuana’s hospitals turned swamped with suspected COVID-19 sufferers. Desperate family demanded details about their family members exterior medical services. Nurses and medical doctors protested that they didn’t have the mandatory protecting tools because the virus swept by means of their ranks.

Baja California Gov. Jaime Bonilla stated in mid-April that the general public well being system’s medical doctors within the state have been “dropping like flies” as a result of they lacked protecting gear.

Farther down the border in Nogales, Sonora, residents quickly blocked the crossing from Arizona with their automobiles in March as a result of they stated the Mexican authorities was doing nothing to medically display screen individuals coming from the U.S., they usually feared the pandemic would overwhelm Mexico’s well being system.

Meanwhile, California officers and hospital CEOs have expressed concern about individuals crossing the border to get remedy on the U.S. facet. Last month, San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar despatched a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking the White House to ship help to assist Mexico deal with sufferers, citing rising concern concerning the virus’s unfold in northern Mexico. She known as for a brief hospital to be arrange on the border to deal with these arriving in Mexican ambulances, so they’re not transferred to U.S. ambulances and hospitals.

Mexican Consul Carlos González Gutiérrez stated in response that there is no such thing as a proof of Mexican nationals crossing the border in massive numbers to hunt well being care; those that do are both U.S. residents residing in Mexico or twin residents.

This month, the Imperial Valley, a farming area in California on the border with Mexico, is experiencing a spike in hospitalizations that some imagine is pushed by the identical phenomenon González referenced.

In Tijuana, it stays unclear the place the primary coronavirus instances originated, although state officers have stated the primary confirmed case was a person who had traveled to the U.S. While that’s one chance, the town additionally sees many worldwide guests and has quite a few hyperlinks with Mexico City, which is by far the hardest-hit place within the nation. Gama used a masks and gloves on either side of the border and doesn’t know the place he received contaminated.

“There (in the U.S.) I didn’t really know where to run to, and my whole family is in Tijuana,” he stated. “They didn’t check me or ask me anything” when he crossed into Mexico, Gama stated. Days later, he examined constructive.

He is now recovering in his mother and father’ residence and says to date nobody else in his household feels unwell.

For most individuals, the coronavirus causes gentle or reasonable signs. For some, particularly older adults and folks with present well being issues, it could actually trigger extra extreme sickness and result in loss of life.

The Trump administration this week prolonged its border restrictions for a month and, on paper, Mexico has imposed the identical limits on nonessential site visitors from the U.S. In actuality, Mexican officers usually examine solely pedestrians for signs. Meanwhile, most industrial site visitors, which is taken into account important, and vacationers like Gama, with rights to reside and work in each international locations, proceed to cross in massive numbers in each instructions.

That has officers anxious that Tijuana may see a resurgence within the coming weeks, despite the fact that for now the town seems to have handed the height. The metropolis’s intensive-care items have been solely about 60% occupied this week, and it has arrange neighborhood clinics and new wards for sufferers with much less severe signs.

José María Ramos, a professor and researcher on the College of the Northern Border in Tijuana, stated Trump’s precedence gave the impression to be limiting migration reasonably than defending public well being. He criticized Mexico’s authorities for not pushing again extra.

“We’re in a national emergency, and health has to be part of the present and immediate future,” Ramos stated.

For some touched by the virus, quickly sealing the border would make sense.

“The people come and go and carry the microbe from the United States or from Tijuana,” stated Miguel Angel Jiménez, a 57-year-old diabetic who contracted COVID-19 in April and is simply starting to get better. “So we’re never going to end this situation.”


Associated Press author Jorge Lebrija reported this story in Tijuana and AP author María Verza reported from Mexico City. AP author Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.

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