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Mother's Day meets peak coronavirus contagion week in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mother’s Day, considered one of the most important dates in the social calendar for Mexicans, coincides with what health officials have calculated as the peak of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mexican officials have stepped up the promotion of social distancing measures ahead of Sunday, closing the capital’s main flower market and cemeteries where people gather, and have even suggested moving the holiday to July.

“Don’t expose her, take care of her and don’t go to visit,” Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum tweeted with a hashtag that proposes moving the date to July 10. The Mexico City government announced a 12-hour-long virtual festival for Sunday.

Mother’s Day, a tradition that began in 1922, marks peak consumption for restaurants as well as peak traffic as Mexicans visit their mothers and grandmothers.

Jaime Zamora, who works in a bank and lives in sprawling Mexico State with his mother, said unlike past years he would not receive his sister’s family. “We’ll stay at home, we’ll talk on the phone,” he said.

Zamora said his aunt would also stay at home as a recent heart attack put her in a higher risk group.

The Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism predicted the commercial and services sector could lose out on about $1.50 billion of income, down 80% from last year.

Mexico’s Health Ministry on Thursday reported 1,982 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 257 additional fatalities, the most lethal day since the pandemic reached Latin America’s second largest country.

The figures bring the total number of confirmed cases to 29,616 and 2,961 deaths. However, the government has said the real number of infections is significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Leslie Adler