How is Mexico handling COVID-19?

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The COVID-19 virus reached Mexico late February 2020. In an effort to inform the country of the updates and the necessary measures, the Secretaría de Salud or the health department has had daily press conferences since February 29, 2020. In this post, I want to explore some of the measures taken and the campaign to promote social distancing.

Photo taken by Carl Campbell found on with license CC BY 2.0

Escenarios de Propagación (spread)

The Subsecretario de Prevención y Promoción de Salud Dr. Hugo López-Gatell has been the face of this epidemic in Mexico. He has been in charge of the health strategy surrounding the pandemic and has been the person communicating with the Mexican people. He was also in charge of modernización or modernising the national epidemiological system in the country the last several months.

Based on the advice and guidelines of the Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) or the World Health Organization (WHO), López-Gatell and his team have set up 3 different scenarios of contagion for Mexico for COVID-19. Mexico is currently on the highest scenario, sometimes referred as phases. Below is a brief summary of each phase:

  1. Importación Viral
    In this phase, there are just a handful of cases and there is no need for restrictive measures like closing schools or big events. This is also the point where the transmission can be traced to people who had traveled to at-risk countries. The role of the government at this point is to spread information about safety measures such as lavarse las manos (wash your hands), estornudar en el en la parte interna de tu codo (sneeze on your inner elbow), y mantener la sana distancia (healthy distance or social distancing as it is mostly referred to in English).
  2. Dispersión Comunitaria
    During this phase, there are now a couple hundred cases. Greeting others with a handshake, kiss or with a hug is restricted. Schools, businesses should monitor for any potential cases and ask those people to stay home. Public events and spaces should only be closed if there are a high number of cases within the community.
  3. Epidémico
    The last phase has more restricciones or restrictions because there are already thousands of cases of COVID-19. Espacios públicos, escuelas y empleos no esenciales are restricted or completely closed. Mexico reached this phase on March 21, 2020. The video below explains the number of cases up until this date.

Campañas de Prevención

The Mexican government has launched a couple of preventive campaigns for COVID-19; these follow the WHO guidelines and are very much like the campaigns in most countries.

Sana Distancia

Sana Distancia was the wording chosen for social distancing. It loosely translates as healthy distancing. I personally find this wording so much more efficient because it focuses on the physical distance rather than the social one. We should keep our distance, which varies per country but is anywhere in the range of 1.5 meters or 6 feet, but we should find ways to socially connect use digital mediums.

To promote sana distancia particularly among children, the government created the superhero Susana Distancia, a play on the phrase su sana distancia (your healthy distance). Susana Distancia‘s super power is keeping a 1.5-meter distance from everyone and she encourages children to do the same. Our superhero informs people of ways to stay healthy through videos, pamphlets and, more recently, via Whatsapp. You can send her a message and she will provide you with basic information as well as what to do in case you have symptoms.

Below is a video of Susana Distancia, the newest super hero in Mexico, advising how best to go out for groceries. There are plenty more videos; check them out on this link.

Quedate en Casa

Another very important campaign is to stay at home or quedate en casa. People should only leave their homes when they need to get food and medicine. Non essential businesses are closed and people are encouraged to do as much online. If you need to go out for something urgent, you should practice sana distancia. During Easter, schools close for two weeks and a good portion of people travel to the coast. Schools closed two weeks before Easter holiday also known as semana santa, and this is why it was very important to promote “quedate en casa” to discourage people from traveling. Beaches, hotels and other travel destinations closed. Below is Susana Distancia’s video promoting the campaign quedate en casa.


The most important campaign is that of hygiene. We have heard it from all sorts organisations, doctors, scientists, and world leaders that the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands. Combined with social distancing, this is right now the best way to keep ourselves and our loved ones saludables. Several cities around Mexico have also started disinfecting public spaces like markets, bus stops, parks and anywhere where there might be a big influx of people (see image at the top).

Our Mexican super hero has a video teaching everyone how to wash your hands. Not only should you wash all surfaces of your hands including the tips of your fingers, in between fingers and the upper part of your hand including the wrists, but this should also be done over 20 seconds to ensure efficacy.

How are you staying safe? Are there different measures where you live?

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