SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Mexican state of Baja California and its largest city, Tijuana, posted a record-breaking 1,058 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, according to the state’s epidemiology director.
“We’ve never saw these numbers during the first or the second wave,” said Óscar Efrén Zazueta.
Just the day before, 811 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, Zazueta said.
Health officials also reported a 65-percent positive rate in testing.
Zazueta called the figures “record-setting.”
“It’s going to be very complicated to lower the numbers,” said Néstor Hernández Milán, Tijuana’s Health Evaluator and Researcher. “It’s still very important at this moment to continue vaccination campaigns to lower the risks, hospitalizations and deaths.”
Hernández Milán said the positive testing numbers took a huge jump in just a few days, adding that it was at 36 percent on Sunday before escalating to 65.4 on Thursday.
“People who are coughing, experiencing headaches and runny noses are looking at a 65 percent probability they have COVID-19, regardless of which variant it is,” he said.
According to Hernández Milán, 95 percent of the new cases involved people who had not been fully vaccinated.
Tijuana’s vaccination rates have lagged, but earlier this week, those 40 and older started getting booster shots.
Testing is also expensive and hard to find, limiting access for most residents in cities such as Tijuana.
“We knew there was a risk as people were moving around and gathering for the end-of-the-year holidays,” said Adrián Medina Amarillas, Baja California’s Secretary of Health. “I don’t want to sound catastrophic nor create fear, but I need to be realistic: If we don’t do something different from what we’ve been doing the last few months trying to control this virus, the amount of new cases is going to overwhelm all of us.”
Medina Amarillas said a looming issue is that schools are set to reopen for in-house learning beginning Jan. 17.
“If we implement measures now to ensure everyone is following safety guidelines as we return to classes, there won’t be a problem, but if we see one we will modify and take appropriate actions then,” he said.
Since the pandemic started, according to the state’s COVID-19 website, there have been 48,228 cases in Baja California with a total of 8,070 deaths.
In Tijuana alone, 17,480 cases have been recorded with 3,613 deaths.