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Gov. Luis Miguel Barbosa of the state of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City, said, “The majority are wealthy people,” after the government revealed three-quarters of the country’s 475 confirmed cases are from people returning from international travel.
By Thursday the country had 110 news cases, according to Reuters.
“If you are rich, you are at risk,” he said in a news conference that was broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook. “If you are poor, no. We poor people, we are immune.”
Some Mexicans appear to have contracted the virus while on ski trips to Italy or the U.S.
Barbosa also seemed to be appealing to an old belief that poor sanitation standards increase immunity by exposing people to more bacteria.
Mexico’s deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell this week announced the federal government will halt all nonessential activities and the country has closed schools nationwide through April 20.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, however, has resisted a stay-at-home order that several U.S. states have enacted and Tuesday told reporters the country would be through “the worst of it” within a month, according to The Guardian.
He also told Mexicans to keep “living life as usual” and encouraged them to go out to eat if they can. “I’ll tell you when not to go out any longer,” he said in a video message Sunday, The Guardian reported.
Eight people have died of the virus in Mexico as of Thursday, according to Reuters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.