Organizers went ahead with a Mexican beauty pageant despite a Covid-19 outbreak that infected nearly half of the contestants, it emerged.
At least 15 of the 32 contestants in the Miss Mexico 2021 pageant tested positive for coronavirus. A member of the contest staff also tested positive, according to the Chihuahua state health secretary.
“Although many [of the contestants] they were coughing, they had body aches and even a fever, they asked them not to complain, “said a source from the contest to the newspaper Reforma.
Before the contest, contestants traveled to a school run by nuns for indigenous Tarahumara children in the picturesque but impoverished Copper Canyon, where they handed out school supplies and posed for selfies with students. The source told Reforma that “a minimum of 10 [contestants] I had symptoms ”on that trip.
Organizers from the northern city of Chihuahua proceeded with the contest on July 1, two days ahead of schedule. It is unknown why the date was changed and the organizers have not commented.
Health officials in the state of Chihuahua accused the organizers of not cooperating and trying to cover up the eruption of Covid cases. The state health secretary said in a statement that it received notice of the outbreak through an anonymous call.
“The state health secretary regrets the lack of honesty and transparency of the organizing committee,” the statement said.
The contest outbreak comes as Covid cases emerge in a country that has taken a somewhat less stringent approach to closures, closing borders and requiring the use of masks while conducting little testing.
On Tuesday, health officials reported the largest increase in daily new coronavirus infections since late February.
The health ministry reported 7,989 new confirmed Covid cases along with 269 more deaths, bringing the overall total to 2,549,862 infections and 233,958 deaths. Approximately 15% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 25.1% of Mexicans have received a single dose.
Reuters also contributed to this report.