Mexico’s Covid-19 deaths surpassed those in India, making the country’s outbreak the third-most deadly worldwide, as officials struggle to contain a pandemic that’s taking an increasingly grim toll.
The Health Ministry reported an increase of 1,506 deaths on Thursday night, bringing the total 155,145. Cases rose 18,670 to 1,825,519.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who himself is currently battling the illness, has resisted mandatory lockdowns seen in other countries and has largely pressed forward with the same priorities he had before the outbreak. He’s avoided widespread direct stimulus to ease the virus’s economic impact and has continued to tout his efforts to root out corruption.
“The Covid-19 pandemic causes much sadness, much pain, it’s harmful, but more harmful, more dire is the plague of corruption; it’s worse than an illness,” Lopez Obrador said at an event last week. The president made the remark a day after Mexico reported a record daily rise of 1,803 Covid deaths.
As the toll in Mexico rose, and the country surpassed Italy, Spain and the U.K. in total fatalities, Lopez Obrador emphasized the larger population. But in overtaking India, Mexico now has a higher death toll than a country with more than 10 times as many people. On the basis of Covid-19 deaths per capita, Mexico is among the top three highest in Latin America.
India’s reported Covid fatality rate has declined to about a tenth of its daily high in September to more than 100 deaths a day. The number of registered cases has also dropped after it began its vaccination drive earlier in January. The South Asian nation of about 1.3 billion people was released from one of the world’s strictest lockdowns earlier last year.
Mexico began administering the Pfizer vaccine at the end of December, but it hasn’t seen any decrease in cases or deaths. Confirmed fatalities put the country behind only the U.S. and Brazil, and health officials acknowledge the actual toll from the pandemic is much higher, with those estimates being among the most in the world. Mexico’s positive test rate, above 40%, indicate a prevalence of undetected cases in the country.
Lopez Obrador’s government has sent mixed signals as the virus has raged through the country. Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, who’s overseeing the country’s response to the illness, has implored people in nightly press conferences to stay home, wear a mask and maintain social distancing. But in the days before announcing his illness, Lopez Obrador took a commercial flight, attended events and appeared in photographs without a mask on.
Hospital occupancy in the capital of Mexico City has remained near 90% over the past weeks, and economic activity remains restricted to what’s essential. Beds have been filling throughout the country with eight other states having occupancy rates higher 70%, according to the Health Ministry.
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