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Relatives of patients hospitalized in the General Hospital of Zone 1 of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) wait outside for updates. Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City and the neighboring State of Mexico will ban nonessential activities in an effort to curb a spike in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals, officials announced Friday.

Driving the news: Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said hospital capacity is at about 75%, but the federal government put the number at 80%, per AP. Families have reported searching for hours to find open hospital beds in the capital.

Details: Starting Saturday, restaurants must close except for takeout.

  • Many nonessential stores must also close and cultural activities will be postponed or cancelled.
  • The restrictions will last until at least Jan. 10.
  • Friday's announcement comes as shopping centers and stores have seen an uptick in customers for the holiday season.

What they're saying: "With these extraordinary measures we will help reduce infections and hospitalizations in the Valley of Mexico," deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell tweeted Friday.

The big picture: Mexico has nearly 1.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 116,480 deaths as of Friday afternoon, per Johns Hopkins University data, though the numbers are believed to be much higher.

  • Mexico City has confirmed more than 19,000 coronavirus-related deaths, and about 20% of the country's cases, per Bloomberg News.

Worth noting: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called lockdowns and face-mask mandates tactics of "dictatorship," per AP.

Go deeper

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

"It's gonna get worse before it gets better": President Biden expects 100,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 during his first six weeks in office.

The big picture: Biden said he's putting America on a wartime footing against the virus, signing 10 executive orders today alone.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Fighting COVID-19's effects on gender equality

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Women around the world have borne a disproportionate brunt of the social and economic effects of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Women in the U.S. and around the world already faced an unequal playing field before the pandemic. As countries prepare for the post-COVID-19 world, they need to take special care to ensure the virus doesn't permanently set back the cause of gender equality.

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as coronavirus cases surge

Hong Kong health workers patrol a street where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Photo: Anthony Kwan via Getty Images

Hong Kong will place tens of thousands of residents on lockdown to curtail outbreaks in neighborhoods with aging, subdivided apartments, the government announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It’s the first time Hong Kong has imposed a lockdown since the pandemic began. The restrictions will begin Saturday and last for at least two weeks.