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U.S. travel warning puts virus-battered Mexico on par with war-torn countries

The U.S. State Department urged citizens on Thursday not to travel to Mexico, despite easing a global travel ban, and warned of the rapid spread of coronavirus in the neighboring nation, in addition to rampant crime and kidnapping.

The United States and Mexico have close commercial ties and share the world’s busiest land border, crossed by many of their citizens for work, travel or family visits.

Mexico’s health ministry reported 6,590 new infections and 819 more deaths, taking its virus tally to 462,690 confirmed cases and 50,517 fatalities.

On Twitter, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, said his country had issued a ‘Level 4: Do not travel,’ warning for all nations at the beginning of the pandemic in March.

But the stringent advisory, usually reserved for countries at war, was not lifted for Mexico, because of the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

‘Its own government recognizes that contagion rates are still high,’ Landau added.

The state department said, ‘Travelers to Mexico may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within Mexico due to COVID-19.’  

Reiterating earlier concerns about crime, its website said the Level 4 warning covered Mexico and many other countries.

More than 53,000 people have been murdered since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador entered office in December 2018.  

A recent updated government study found that 73,201 people – 75 percent of whom are between the ages of 15 and 30 – are missing in Mexico. The figures, which covered between 1964 and July 14, 2020, showed that 27,871 since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018. 

The National Search for Missing Persons Commission said 2,332 people were reported missing in the first six months of 2020, down 36.6 percent from the 3,679 who went missing in the same period of 2019. 

Citing the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] issued a separate ‘Level 3 Travel Health Notice.’ 

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