More than 50,000 additional coronavirus cases were reported for a second consecutive day on Thursday, lifting the estimated active case tally to a new record high.
The Health Ministry reported 50,373 new cases, increasing Mexico’s accumulated tally to 4.54 million. The estimated active case count rose to almost 343,000 as the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly. Baja California Sur remains the country’s coronavirus hotspot with the highest number of cases on a per capita basis.
The official COVID-19 death toll increased to 302,390 on Thursday with an additional 278 fatalities reported.
The Health Ministry reported that the occupancy rate for general care hospital beds had risen one point to 38%, while 22% of beds with ventilators were taken, a two-point increase compared to Wednesday.
Aguascalientes has the highest occupancy rate in the former category with over 80% of general care beds in use. Almost three-quarters of such beds are taken in Durango, while Coahuila, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Mexico City and Nuevo León have occupancy rates above 60%.
Meanwhile, children’s hospitals in Mexico City are reporting an increase in the number of consultations for minors with coronavirus-like symptoms, the newspaper El País said Thursday.
According to a recent report from the National System for the Protection of Girls, Boys and Adolescents (Sipinna), just over 3,600 coronavirus infections among children have been detected this year, but that figure is likely a significant undercount due to low testing rates.
The federal government hasn’t offered vaccines to minors younger than 15 – with the exception of those with existing health problems – meaning that they could be more susceptible to infection.
The Sipinna report suggests that older children are more likely to become infected. Only 19% of the confirmed cases were detected in children aged five or younger, while 24% were found in those aged six to 11 and 57% in youths between the ages of 12 and 17.
There have been more than 800 COVID-related deaths among children in Mexico, but Health Minister Jorge Alcocer has recommended against vaccinating minors, even as many other countries administer shots to kids as young as five.
In other COVID-19 news:
• México state will regress to medium risk yellow on the federal coronavirus stoplight map on Monday, Governor Alfredo del Mazo announced. There are more than 25,000 active cases in the state, the federal Health Ministry reported Thursday, while the hospital occupancy rate for general care beds is 34%.
México state is one of 19 states that are currently low risk green on the stoplight map.
• Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said it was probable that the capital would also switch from green to yellow on Monday.
“We’re going to wait for the information that the [federal] Health Ministry will give us in the afternoon,” she said Friday.
Sheinbaum ruled out introducing additional economic restrictions. “… It’s important to say that our strategy is to vaccinate and provide information to citizens in order to protect ourselves,” she said.
Mexico City currently has more than 70,000 active cases, while the hospital occupancy rate for general care beds is 65%.
Between 20% and 40% of patients currently in Mexico City hospitals were admitted for other reasons and later tested positive for COVID, coronavirus spokesman Eduardo Clark said Friday.
• Booster shots will be available in Mexico City for adults aged 40 to 49 starting January 31, authorities announced.
The federal government began offering booster shots to seniors across the country last month but has not yet concluded that campaign.
Almost 76.2 million Mexicans are fully vaccinated and over 83 million have received at least one shot, according to the latest data.
Mexico’s population-wide vaccination rate is 65%, according to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, 10 points lower than the rate in the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone aged five and older get a COVID-19 vaccine.