In an interesting turn of events, Mexican health officials are considering the possibility of closing off the country’s northern border with the United States amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.
In the debate surrounding travel across the U.S.-Mexico border, the roles are usually reversed with U.S. officials threatening to shut down the border over immigration and security concerns despite the fact that more people are actually moving from the United States to Mexico than the other way around.
Mexican health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell voiced his concerns about the risk of the outbreak spreading from the United States at a press conference on Friday.
“Mexico wouldn’t bring the virus to the United States, rather the United States would bring it here. The possible flow of coronavirus would come from the north to the south. If it were technically necessary, we would consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance,” Lopez-Gatell said.
The official number of cases in the U.S. is just over 2,300, but some experts and health officials believe that there are already hundreds of thousands of cases. Dr. Marty Makary, a medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, estimates that there could be up to a half-million cases in the U.S.
“Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1,600 Americans have the virus. No, that means 1,600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed,” Makary said.
“I think we have between 50,000 and half a million cases right now walking around in the United States,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton estimated that there were at least 100,000 undiagnosed cases just in the state of Ohio.
“We know now, just the fact of community spread, says that at least 1 percent, at the very least, 1 percent of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today. We have 11.7 million people. So the math is over 100,000. So that just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly,” Acton said.
There are still under 20 confirmed cases in Mexico, and no known deaths from the illness, although as with the U.S. and everywhere else, this number is likely to be higher due to inadequate testing.