A sunset in Popotla, in Rosarito. Baja California has rebranded its tourism promotion efforts. Photo credit: Adrian Ramos, via @BajaCaliforniaTravelEng, on Facebook

 As San Diego County lifts COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, Baja California is still recovering from the pandemic but may be doing slightly better than Mexico on average, a binational report revealed Wednesday.

The report, “Survey on Prevalence of Covid-19 in Baja California,” was conducted with the support of the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego, California Health Care Foundation and the administration of the International Community Foundation.

The survey, conducted in the cities of Mexicali, Ensenada and Tijuana, between Feb. 1 and 19, had four main findings:

— The prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, which indicates the percentage of people who were already infected by the virus at some point in the past, was slightly better but ultimately similar in Baja California to that of the rest of Mexico: 21% in Baja California compared to 25% at the national level, as determined by the Health and Nutrition National Survey-COVID completed at the end of 2020;

— The percentage of people residing in Baja California cities who crossed the border in the six months prior to the survey was low. Furthermore, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was not different among those who did or did not cross the border;

— A higher percentage of positive cases was registered in Ensenada than in the rest of the surveyed cities, likely due to the dynamics of the pandemic, in which the peaks of cases occurred first in Mexicali and Tijuana and later in the port of Ensenada, where the peak appears to appears to have coincided with the survey period; and

— Knowledge about COVID-19 in the population was limited. Prevention messages on the use of masks and hand-washing seem to have had an impact on the population. In contrast, the messages regarding the importance of staying at home have either not been accepted, or the population has not had the necessary resources to do so.

The survey was conducted with the participation of 155 medical students and interns from the Autonomous University of Baja California, under the coordination and supervision of the Ministry of Health of Baja California. The exercise had the technical support of the University of California San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte and UABC.

The main objective of the survey was to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population of Tijuana, Mexicali and Ensenada. For this, 1,126 people were surveyed in the three cities, and two types of laboratory tests were used to establish prevalence: nasal swabs to identify positive cases of COVID-19 at the time of the survey and antibody tests on blood to identify who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The laboratory tests and health questionnaire — designed by a group of experts from El Colef and UC San Diego — were conducted on a representative sample of the population of three cities in Baja California, comprised of 50.2% men and 49.9% women.

–City News Service

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