March 17, 2020 / 9:14 AM / 23 days ago

Mexico central bank staffer tests positive for coronavirus

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A high ranking member of staff of Mexico’s central bank has tested positive for the coronavirus, after attending a convention last week that was also attended by the president, finance minister and hundreds of senior bankers.

The Bank of Mexico did not identify the staff member and said none of its five board members had presented symptoms of the disease.

A central bank source told Reuters the staff member attended the two-day convention in the port of Acapulco. Among other attendees were President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Finance Minister Arturo Herrera and Central Bank governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon.

Despite calls for social distancing, Mexicans have found it difficult to shake the habit of greeting friends, family and even strangers with a handshake, hug or kiss on the cheek. That was on full display at the banking conference last week.

Lopez Obrador on Monday rejected criticism he was setting a poor example by holding mass rallies during the coronavirus scare even as his government encourages the public to practice social distancing.

In contrast to much of Latin America, Mexico’s government has taken a hands-off approach to tackling coronavirus, keeping the borders open and arguing that creating undue panic runs the risk of overloading health services.

Mexico’s health ministry said on Monday that confirmed cases of coronavirus infection had risen to 82 from 53 a day earlier.

The central bank said health authorities are tracking down people the staff member was in touch with. The individual has not shown serious symptoms and was isolated at home.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito, editing by Louise Heavens

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