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In the first three weeks of the year alone, the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) has granted more than 600,000 disabilities to workers and workers by covid-19. However, that figure is still not the maximum, in the agency they foresee that this week or the next the highest point will be presented due to the impact of the fourth wave of the pandemic in the country.

According to Mauricio Hernández Ávila, director of Economic and Social Benefits of the IMSS, the high number of temporary incapacity for work (ITT), caused by the Omicron variant, is double that reported in January 2021, at the peak of infections caused by Delta. However, the projection is that, “without a doubt”, for February they will go down and quickly.

In an interview, the official reported that 52% of the disabilities have been for men and 48% for women. The age group in which there have been more infections is that of 20 to 29 years. The three economic sectors that have seen their labor force most affected are sightseeing, the services and the Health.

Similar to what happened with Delta in 2021, the hotel staff or dedicated to the hospitality sector for travelers was the first victim of the fourth wave of the pandemic. “It started early in Baja California Sur Y Quintana Roo”, detailed the official. For both entities, tourism is the main economic activity and generator of jobs.

“The most affected jobs are those where there is more contact with people,” he explained. At service industryFor example, employees of self-service stores have been exposed to contagion and this is reflected in the fact that they are part of the second most infected labor group.

“The contagion is also rising in health personnel.” Only in the IMSS itself, last week 33,000 disabilities were granted to those who work in the medical and administrative areas. The temporary sick leave due to infections since the beginning of the year is not minor, the official stressed, “we are talking about the fact that, for three weeks, we have not had the 9% of the workforce”.

In contrast, the education sector and cultural is the group “with the lowest disability rate” due to covid-19. Although the health authorities of the federal government have insisted that schools are not centers of contagion, a dozen entities have decided to continue with online classes.

The cost of disability

Mauricio Hernández also reported that, from the start of the pandemic to date, the IMSS has granted more than 5,500 million pesos in subsidies for the wages that the working population that fell ill with coronavirus stopped receiving. For the disabilities that Omicron will produce, they have an estimate of 1,200 million pesos.

Because covid-19 is not an occupational disease, companies are not required to pay wages for the time that people stop working. It is the institute that is in charge of granting a financial benefit or subsidy. However, this is equivalent to 60% of salary that the employer has reported and grants it from the fourth day of disability.

That is why it is difficult to think that there could be working people who take advantage of the covid permit, an online procedure to obtain disability without the need for a laboratory test. Last year, when the Delta variant raised the third wave, almost all of those who requested that license tested positive, indicated the director of Economic and Social Benefits of the IMSS.

He asked “employers to take this incapacity as valid and not to retaliate” against people who cannot do their jobs. In the first seven days of the relaunch of the covid-19 permit, more than 50,000 licenses, according to information from the institute. This is equivalent to about 10% of the total disabilities granted.

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