TIJUANA (Border Report) — The COVID-19 positive test-rate in Tijuana has spiked to 74 percent according to Óscar Efrén Zazueta Fierro, head of Baja California’s epidemiology department.

It means nearly three out of four people who have symptoms and choose to get tested are having a positive result.

Health officials are also reporting, on average, 2,000 new cases per day in Tijuana due to the omicron variant, which is proving to be far more contagious than previous strains.

“The number of people who got sick as a result of one contagious person was about six with the Delta variant, with Omicron it’s 10,” Zazueta Fierro said in Spanish. “Those who are not vaccinated are easily affected by this new aggressive strain.”

Getting tested has proven to be a challenge for most people in cities such as Tijuana.

Some have been complaining of waiting for as many as 17 hours to get tested at medical facilities in Tijuana where free testing is hard to come by.

“I have been waiting for five hours,” Alejandra said in Spanish.

Border Report spoke with her as she stood near the back of the line outside a hospital in Tijuana.

“I have to get the test, my coworker tested positive and I have to get a negative test before I can return to work,” she said.

Others talked about not having access to food while standing in line for hours.

“We’re all starving, there’s nothing to eat around here,” said Reyna Ramirez, who chose to get tested after developing a sore throat and headaches.

According to Zazueta Fierro, the waits are a result of an increased demand for testing and not a lack of test kits.

“We are doing between 1,800 to 2,000 tests per day, with 60 percent of those at state facilities.”

The city of Tijuana has also announced it is instituting more stringent requirements to minimize the number of people in one place.

All indoor facilities must again limit occupancy to 50 percent, and facemasks are now mandatory everywhere.

City and state officials are pleading with people to adhere to the new regulations and to avoid going out in public unless necessary.

Residents are also being asked to open windows every five minutes as a way to ventilate confined places such as offices and private homes.

And as of this week, the state of Baja California is also ramping up vaccination events in Tijuana and Mexicali, located about 120 miles to the east.

Two stadiums are being used as vaccination venues as a way to accommodate as many people as possible.