Mexican president downplays global coronavirus pandemic

QUERETARO, Mexico

The President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico is defying international health recommendations by telling citizens they should continue to frequent local businesses amid the coronavirus.   

In a Facebook video he uploaded on Sunday evening, he said that people should not take the “exaggerated” measures of staying indoors and participating in social distancing.  

“We are going to continue to lead a normal life, and in the [right] moment, the president will tell you all when to protect yourselves,” he said in the video.  

He suggested that people continue to go to local businesses like restaurants as long as they maintain a “safe distance” from one another. In the video, he’s promoting the restaurant La Teca in Oaxaca, a state in southwestern Mexico.  

“If you are able to do it and have the economic capacity, continue to take your family out to eat at restaurants because this strengthens the local economy,” he said.

He then pointed out that there have been only two confirmed cases in Oaxaca. However, experts have repeatedly said that there’s likely many more unconfirmed cases as many public hospitals continue to refuse to test people with symptoms.

The president then said that Mexicans are “very resistant” because of their culture, seeming to suggest that Mexicans will fare better than other countries because of their “ancient” roots.

Lopez Obrador’s recommendations are a swift break from the suggestions of other international world leaders.

Governments and the World Health Organization have asked people to participate in social distancing and stay indoors if possible in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some governments, like those of Spain and Italy, have forced people to quarantine amid the outbreaks.

The president has been criticized for his laid back approach to the coronavirus, and cities and municipalities are taking their own steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

For example in the capital city of Queretaro, a state in central Mexico, the government closed down schools, gyms, clubs, and more. Citizens in the city can frequent restaurants and stores only during specific hours.

Despite the criticisms, the Mexican president assured citizens that the country was prepared.

The Mexican government announced on Sunday that there were 316 coronavirus cases in the country.

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