Mexican officials suggest extending border restrictions after cases of virus spike in Tamaulipas

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Laredo mayor says Mexican officials expect border restrictions to last until June 30

FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, U.S. health regulators OK’d the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Mexico’s northern state of Tamaulipas, which borders over 200 miles with South Texas, reported 81 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday — the most cases of coronavirus confirmed in a single day since the pandemic began.

South Texas leaders on Monday met with Mexican health and community leaders who said that due to the spike in cases south of the border, international travel restrictions will likely be extended through June 30, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said.

During a noon video briefing on Monday with media, Saenz said that that earlier Monday, he and Dr. Hector Gonzalez, director of the Laredo Health Department, met with Mexican community and health officials who told them that Mexican officials are inclined to extend international bridge travel restrictions due to the escalating number of COVID-19 cases in the country. However, Saenz cautioned that these talks are ongoing and not the definitive word, which will come from the White House and Mexican president.

Pete Saenz, mayor of Laredo, Texas. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

“Dr. Gonzalez and I met with our counterparts from Mexico and, of course, the concern is about what this COVID has done to both our cities and nations,” Saenz said. “And because of the rising cases, they foresee the extension of these restrictions through June 30. … This hasn’t been confirmed or stated by any new official, but it appears we’re heading that way.”

Travel restrictions were put in place on March 20 between the United States, Mexico and Canada due to the pandemic and are set to expire on Wednesday. Current restrictions allow only necessary and essential business and medical travel between the nations to help limit the spread of the virus.

Read a Border Report story on the March 20 travel restrictions imposed.

But Mexico is just now beginning to see its peak of cases, health authorities say.

Dr. Heactor Gonzalez is the director of the Laredo Health Department. (Courtesy Photo)

Most of the new cases reported in Tamaulipas on Sunday occurred in Matamoros, where 21 cases were added across the Rio Grande from Brownsville. Ten new cases were reported in Reynosa, across from McAllen, and nine new cases were reported in Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas. This brings the total of coronavirus cases in Tamaulipas to 1,101 and 67 deaths, Tamualipas Health Secretary Gloria Molina Gamboa said.

Gonzalez said that health officials in Laredo are working with Mexican authorities and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to identify and isolate any cross-border travelers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

“We want to increase surveillance on both sides of the border, at this point there have been persons detected at the ports of entry exhibiting symptoms,” Gonzalez said. “We had a discussion that if we have an infectious person we isolate them and take the precautions. If we need to expatriate them, we would coordinate with Mexico’s health authority for them to be returned appropriately at the right time.”

Laredo officials on Monday reported there has been a total of 470 COVID-19 cases in the city and surrounding Webb County. Officials reported the 18th fatality from the novel virus on Saturday of an 80-year-old woman at Laredo Medical Center.

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