Mexico coronavirus fight gives students earlier, longer Easter vacations

FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma speaks during the presentation of the national financial inclusion policy, at the Interactive Museum of Economics (MIDE) in Mexico City, Mexico March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – In Mexico 33 million students will head into earlier and longer Easter vacations at the end of next week after Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma on Saturday announced measures to help avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

The health ministry said the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 41 from 26 on Friday and 15 the prior day. It has not confirmed any deaths from the fast-spreading virus.

Mexico’s Easter vacations will start on Friday, March 20, and last for 30 days instead of 15, Moctezuma said. Other measures include additional education on hygiene and sanitation.

“We don’t want that students leave for vacation and all stick together,” Moctezuma said during press conference, adding that students should avoid close contacts with others. “We want this to be preventative isolation.”

Earlier this week, governments of El Salvador, Panama and Peru all ordered short-term suspension of classes. Governments around the world, but mostly in Europe and Asia where there have been more cases, have announced similar measures.

Some 153,864 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 5,800 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Meanwhile, the health ministry and Mexico’s top tier football league, Liga BBVA MX, said certain matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday as well as other tournaments will be played behind closed doors.

Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Noe Torres; Additional reporting by Adriana Barrera and Carlos Pacheco; Editing by Daniel Wallis and David Gregorio

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