The federal Health Ministry has advised people with Covid-19 symptoms to call 911 to confirm the availability of hospital beds before seeking treatment to avoid facilities that are already full.
As the health systems of some states come under increased pressure due to a recent increase in hospitalizations of coronavirus patients, the Health Ministry issued two statements urging people with Covid-19 symptoms to seek medical care promptly but to check with hospitals first.
In a statement released last Wednesday, the ministry said that the 911 emergency number has a service that allows people to find out which hospitals in the area where they live have beds available for coronavirus patients.
“The person who calls, regardless of the place he or she is, will receive guidance about available hospitals in their location. That will avoid the loss of valuable time in order to ensure prompt medical care,” the ministry said.
It also said that people can access information about “self-care measures” and coronavirus symptoms as well as a list of healthcare facilities and the services they offer on the mobile app COVD-19MX, which is available in both Spanish and English.
The Health Ministry said that a diagnosis in the first 48 hours after the onset of coronavirus-like symptoms such as fever, a cough, a headache or lack of oxygen is essential to avoid complications and the risk of death.
The ministry issued a similar statement on Sunday directed at people with existing health problems that make them particularly vulnerable to a serious Covid-19 illness.
People with Covid-19 symptoms who smoke, have high blood pressure, HIV, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or any other illness that suppresses the immune system should call 911 to find out which hospitals have availability in order to avoid losing time, the statement said.
The ministry said that seeking medical care in the first 48 hours after the onset of symptoms is crucial to reduce the risk of Covid-19 complications and deaths among people aged over 60 and those with chronic diseases.
A person who seeks care five days after the onset of symptoms has double the risk of dying from Covid-19 compared to those who seek care in a more timely manner, it said.
“In some cases, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can make [a person’s] health status worse in a matter of hours,” the ministry said.
According to data presented at Sunday night’s coronavirus press conference, only 39% of general care hospital beds set aside for coronavirus patients are currently occupied while 33% of those with ventilators are in use.
But federal data publicly available online shows that 80 hospitals are currently at 100% capacity. The completely full facilities are located in numerous states including Michoacán, México state, Guanajuato, Veracruz, Mexico City, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Nayarit, Durango, Hidalgo, Nuevo León, Baja California, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Sonora, Sinaloa and Colima.
Seventeen other hospitals currently have an occupancy level above 90%.
Ten of the hospitals with 100% occupancy are in Mexico City, where 600 additional hospital beds for coronavirus patients are to be installed this week.
Authorities in the capital also announced that rapid Covid-19 testing will be available at 29 city-run public hospitals as of this week. The Mexico City government is aiming to carry out 20,000 tests per day — double the current number — to identify and isolate a greater number of positive cases and thus limit the spread of the coronavirus. People found to have the virus will receive financial and food support to ensure that they can isolate at home if their symptoms don’t warrant hospitalization.
There are now more than 200 places to get tested in the capital including medical centers, hospitals and health kiosks that have been set up in hotspot neighborhoods and in busy public places, such as Metro stations. Close to 100,000 rapid tests had been performed at the health kiosks as of Sunday and just under 21% of tests came back positive.
A map of the medical centers and health kiosks performing Covid-19 tests free of charge is available here.
The 29 hospitals where free rapid tests are available are located across 15 of the capital’s 16 boroughs. The full list of participating hospitals is available here.
Mexico City has been the country’s coronavirus epicenter since the beginning of the pandemic with more than 232,000 confirmed cases and 18,171 Covid-19 deaths.
The former figure accounts for about one in five of all cases detected in Mexico. Many of the more than 117,000 confirmed cases in neighboring México state correspond to municipalities that are part of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area.
The capital’s death toll represents 16.5% of all fatalities officially attributed to Covid-19 in Mexico.
The nationwide accumulated case tally increased to 1,175,850 on Sunday with 7,455 new cases reported while an additional 261 fatalities pushed the death toll to 109,717.
The coronavirus risk in two of Mexico’s 32 states, Baja California and Zacatecas, is currently red light “maximum” on the federal government’s stoplight system. The risk in 24 states including Mexico City is orange light “high,” three states are at the yellow light “medium” risk level while three others – Campeche, Chiapas and Veracruz – are painted “low” risk green.