There are more than 26,000 people with Covid-19 in Mexico, according to Health Ministry estimates, a figure more than eight times higher than the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the country.
Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía reported Wednesday night that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases had grown by 396 – the largest single-day increase – to 3,181. He also reported that coronavirus-related deaths had increased by 33 to 174, that there are 9,188 suspected Covid-19 cases in Mexico and that 17,209 people have tested negative for the disease.
Later in the coronavirus press briefing, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said that authorities estimate that the real number of people who have Covid-19 in Mexico is 26,519. He said that the estimate is derived from the sentinel surveillance system in which data about a disease is collected in certain locations and extrapolated to predict total numbers across the country.
López-Gatell said that health authorities are collecting data about confirmed and possible cases of Covid-19 at 375 different heath care facilities.
“The epidemic is eight times bigger” than the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, he said, adding, “that doesn’t change the decisions” made by authorities to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“When we had only 12 cases, with this systematic exploration [through the sentinel system] it was sufficient to take the decision … to begin the social distancing activities,” López-Gatell said.
He said that the surveillance system was established in Mexico in 2006 after collaboration on its development with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization.
The “proven, scientifically founded” system “allows us to assume the reality as it is and not how it is mistakenly thought to be in the sense that only what is seen exists,” the deputy minister said.
“We estimate 26,000 cases … so someone could say, you have a lot more cases than several Latin American countries that have a thousand and something cases. No, we explicitly acknowledge that we have 26,000; in any other country that only has [a figure for] observed cases, they also have to … multiply [that number] by a number … not identical to that in Mexico but by a similar one, 10 or 12 cases … for each [confirmed case],” he said.
“In the countries where very unfortunately they’ve had enormous epidemics, they also have to multiply their cases by a similar number, it’s specific for each country,” López-Gatell added.
Given that there are a large number of undetected cases of Covid-19, it is especially important that people continue to maintain a healthy distance from each other and stay in their homes as much as possible, he said.