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  • General view of the crematorium inside the San Ignacio Municipal Pantheon, in a small industrial town in Coahuila State, Mexico, where bodies are handled with precarious resources and minimal sanitary measures.

    General view of the crematorium inside the San Ignacio Municipal Pantheon, in a small industrial town in Coahuila State, Mexico, where bodies are handled with precarious resources and minimal sanitary measures. | Photo: EFE

Published 16 November 2020
Opinion

Mexico has the world’s fourth-highest death toll from the virus after the United States, Brazil, and India.

According to top health officials, Mexico has surpassed one million coronavirus cases and recorded nearly 100,000 confirmed deaths. Mexican Director-General of Health Promotion Ricardo Cortes Alcalá announced last Saturday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico now stood at 1,003,253, with at least 98,259 deaths from COVID-19. According to an AFP news agency tally based on official figures, the country has the world’s fourth-highest death toll from the virus after the United States, Brazil, and India. It also has the 11th-highest number of infections.

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Critics blame the increasing COVID-19 toll on the government’s refusal to follow internationally accepted practices in pandemic management, from face mask-wearing to lockdowns, testing, and contact tracing.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell has previously said any more comprehensive testing would be “a waste of time, effort and money” and described face masks as “an auxiliary measure to prevent spreading the virus.”

Since the pandemic began, Mexico has managed to administer only about 2.5 million tests to its citizens; only seriously ill people get tested in Mexico. Testing only 1.9 percent of the population since the pandemic began has made it hard, if not impossible, to effectively trace contacts, catch outbreaks early or identify asymptomatic cases.

Mexico City, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak, has tried an alternative approach, which is to identify neighborhoods where clusters of cases have occurred and given them special attention. Lurid yellow warning posters reading “Caution! You are entering an area of high infection” now dot the city. Special kiosks are set up in such neighborhoods to provide some tests, and a few health workers have gone door-to-door looking for cases. But that is rare.

The Mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced on Friday the closure of bars for 15 days and earlier closing times for restaurants, cinemas, and gyms due to the spike in coronavirus infections and hospital admissions last week.

Sheinbaum also said that daily tests would be increased to 10,000.

For doctors on the front lines, the official response has been, at times, frustrating.

"Authorities in Mexico City increase measures to stop the spread of COVID 19."
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