Friday, May 29, 2020

Mexico risks experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 infections with reopening plan

Researchers point out that the latest figures on the progress of the new coronavirus in the country reaffirm that the trajectory of the pandemic is still on the rise. The Mexican government plans to reopen parts of its economy as soon as next Monday, even as researchers and health officials question its claim that the contagion curve is flattening.

On Friday, health authorities reported 2,347 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 along with 290 more deaths, while several of Mexico City’s hospitals approached full capacity. Despite these data, the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, remarked that there are indications that the rate of contagions has begun to decrease as Mexico is under increasing international pressure to reopen the global supply chains that depend of the. A former Health official and a group of Mexican researchers point out that the new figures point to a curve that is still on an upward trajectory. With one of the lowest test rates in the region to detect the new coronavirus, hospitalizations in Mexico may be the best benchmark for measuring the extent of the pandemic and when it is safe to reopen.

Those numbers, for now, are grim. In the country’s capital, at least 73 percent of all hospital beds are occupied and 64 percent of ventilators are in use for COVID-19 patients, López-Gatell reported Tuesday. That shows a 58 percent increase based on April 29. About a quarter of all cases of the new coronavirus are concentrated in Mexico City. “We cannot say that the curve is falling or even that it is reaching a plateau,” said Alejandro Macías, ex-commissioner against the A-H1N1 virus during the 2009 outbreak. “We would need weeks of numbers down to be able to say that. It is Well make plans to reopen, but we have to wait longer to say that we have reached the peak, “he stressed. Public health officials and organizations, including the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned that economies should not start reopening until there is a decline in general cases or positive tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus for a period of 14 days.

As of Friday, 16 hospitals in the central metropolitan area of the country had a “critical” capacity, 25 reported a “good” and 32 they indicated an occupation of between 50 and 89 percent, according to data from Mexico City. “From what we have seen in Mexico City, there is a significant saturation in hospitals,” said Fernando Alarid, a member of a group of researchers from the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) and Stanford University, which has been working on COVID-19 models for some entities in the country. “As soon as you relax disease mitigation efforts while there are still a lot of new cases, you will see an increase in cases, a new wave.”

The group’s mathematical and epidemiological model predicts a peak in Mexico City cases for June 21, but only if social distancing practices continue until the end of this month. In this scenario, Mexico would see 28,757 new cases on that date, and the accumulated confirmed cases would reach 680,800. “I imagine that the authorities are taking other economic and social consequences into account in their decision-making process. We we only look at the cases, “Alarid emphasized. Mexico celebrated Mother’s Day on May 10, with authorities begging citizens not to visit their relatives. However, Oliva López, secretary of the capital’s health, admitted that reports were received from lines of people who were waiting to buy food, flowers and cakes in some areas of the city. “We will see the impact of these exits in the coming days,” he said in an interview with W Radio.

The confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Mexico reached 45,332, while deaths rose to 4,767, The Ministry of Health reported on Friday. Mexico does not allow serological tests to detect antibodies against the virus in one of the main private hospitals, the ABC Medical Center. These test limits, both to see how many people are currently infected and to see how many have already recovered, are hampering doctors’ ability to control the outbreak, said Francisco Moreno, chief of internal medicine at the hospital. “The reality is that no one knows the reality. If you are not testing, then you do not know when you are reaching the peak of contagion, you do not know how long that will last and you do not know when that number will begin to drop, to determine when you are ready to reopen the market, “he added. The automotive, construction and mining sectors of Mexico will begin to implement their reopening process starting next Monday, and their production may increase as soon as their sanitary protocols are launched and approved, according to a decree published on Friday by the Health Secretary. Starting next May 18, schools and companies will reopen in areas of the country with no reported virus cases. American automakers consider auto and parts production in Mexico to be especially crucial for them to resume their own manufacturing. In Mexico, gross domestic product is expected to drop 7.5 percent this year, according to the latest survey of economists conducted by Citibanamex.

The reopening “will be carried out in an extremely careful way. We have to return to a certain normality. We need to reactivate social and economic life and eliminate the enormous pressure on people who live day by day. We have to be aware of the potential risk of a resurgence in the cases, “López-Gatell said Tuesday. Mexico lost 555,247 jobs in April amid the closure of many businesses nationwide to halt the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was its worst recorded monthly decline. In the US, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, also warned that a reopening of the country too early could cause unnecessary suffering and death. “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” he said Tuesday at a Senate Health Committee hearing. “In fact, paradoxically, it will slow you down, not only causing a little bit of suffering and death that could be avoided, but it could even slow you down on the road to economic recovery.”

Source: El Financiero

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