The estimated number of active coronavirus cases is at a near record high as the third wave of the pandemic continues to grow across Mexico.
There were 131,632 active cases as of Sunday, according to Health Ministry estimates, down from a record high of 137,777 on Saturday. Transmission of the highly contagious Delta strain of the virus is fueling the high numbers.
Estimated active cases exceeded 100,000 at the height of the second and worst wave of the pandemic in late 2020 and early 2021 but didn’t rise as high as their current level. They rose 16% over the week to Sunday, the Health Ministry reported, adding that they account for 4.4% of all cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mexico City easily has the highest number of active cases with 36,531, or almost 28% of the total. México state ranks second with 12,749 followed by Jalisco, 7,246; Nuevo León, 7,191; Veracruz, 4,973; Tabasco, 3,588; and Quintana Roo, 3,583.
Health authorities reported 328,983 confirmed cases in July, the second highest monthly total of the pandemic after January, during which almost 440,000 were detected. Case numbers increased 212% last month compared to June but Covid-19 deaths – 7,859 were reported in July – were 17% lower.
At the national level, there is still significant capacity to treat Covid-19 patients with 46% of general care beds and 38% of those with ventilators currently occupied. However, federal data shows that hospitals in some states are under significant pressure.
Just over 95% of general care beds set aside for Covid patients are taken in Colima, while Mexico City, Nayarit, Durango and Guerrero all have rates above 70%. More than 95% of beds with ventilators are also occupied in Colima, while Nayarit, Oaxaca, Nuevo León and Sinaloa have rates above 60%.
Mexico’s accumulated case tally currently stands at 2.85 million while the official death toll – widely considered a significant undercount – is 241,034, the fourth highest total in the world.
Although Mexico only ranks behind the United States, Brazil and India for Covid deaths, President López Obrador declared Friday that the country is not among the worst affected by the pandemic. He pointed out that Mexico ranks sixth in the Americas for its per capita Covid death rate.
Above Mexico, which has recorded 188.9 deaths per 100,000 people according to mortality data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, are Peru (which ranks first in the world with 604.2 deaths per 100,000 people), Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay.
López Obrador also claimed that Mexico ranks second in the Americas for vaccination rates and is one of the “countries of the world with the most vaccines administered.” However, those assertions don’t stack up.
About 67.35 million shots have been administered in Mexico since vaccination began late last year and 53% of adults have received at least one dose, according to the latest Health Ministry data.
But The New York Times vaccinations tracker shows that Mexico ranks 70th in the world for doses given per 100 people. Ahead of Mexico are 13 Western Hemisphere countries: Uruguay, Chile, Canada, the United States, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.
As a percentage of Mexico’s entire population of just over 126 million, only 20% of people are fully vaccinated while 37% have received at least one shot. The rates are 49% and 57%, respectively, in the United States and 60% and 72% in Canada.
Data shows that millions of people across several age groups in Mexico remain unvaccinated despite having had the opportunity to get a shot.
Vaccination has now extended to people in the 18-29 age bracket in some parts of the country, and strong demand was evident in Mexico City last week with young adults flocking to vaccination centers. In the northern borough of Gustavo A. Madero, thousands of people waited for up to three hours to get a shot. However, some people were turned away despite claiming they lived in the borough because their voter ID showed an address outside Gustavo A. Madero.
Meanwhile, an internal document from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obtained by The Washington Post stated that the Delta variant appears to cause more serious illness than other strains and spreads as easily as chickenpox.
Citing unpublished data, the document also said that vaccinated people infected with the Delta strain – which was first detected in India late last year – may be able to pass on the virus just as easily as unvaccinated individuals.
“Vaccinated people infected with Delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant,” the Post said, citing the CDC document.
Despite the growing dominance of the Delta strain around the world, Mexico didn’t tighten restrictions on incoming travelers, who can enter the country without having to show a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination and without having to go into quarantine upon arrival.
Among the states that have recently seen sharp increases in case numbers are Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, where popular beach destinations such as Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos are located.
UPDATE: The Coahuila state government announced it had downgraded its coronavirus stoplight designation from green to yellow as of Monday after new cases put increased pressure on hospitals.