Coronavirus
An anti-vaccination protest in Querétaro. An anti-vaccination protest in Querétaro.

August takes the record as the worst month yet for new COVID-19 infections

But deputy health minister says new cases are declining in 30 states

FREE ACCESS

August was easily the worst month of the pandemic in Mexico in terms of case numbers with more than half a million new infections reported.

Paradoxically, estimated active case numbers have been on the wane for a month and there are “clear signs” that the third wave of the pandemic is receding, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Tuesday.

The Health Ministry reported 11,146 new cases on Tuesday, lifting the total for August to 504,158, or an average of 16,263 per day. The accumulated tally for the entire pandemic currently stands at 3.35 million.

Reported case numbers were 15% higher in August than January, which was the worst month for both case numbers and COVID-19 deaths.

An additional 835 COVID-19 fatalities were reported Tuesday, increasing the August total to 18,420, or an average of 594 deaths per day. The official death toll stands at 259,326, a figure the government has accepted is a significant undercount.

Despite the record case numbers reported this month, COVID deaths were 44% below the January peak, indicating that vaccination is saving lives.

There are currently 105,632 active cases across the country, according to Health Ministry estimates, a 15% decline compared to a week ago.

López-Gatell, who has led the government’s pandemic response, said the estimated number of active cases began to fall a month ago, even as Mexico was recording some of its highest daily case totals since the coronavirus was first detected here in early 2020.

“As we have been saying during the last five or six weeks, the epidemic curve of estimated cases started to decline a month ago,” he told reporters at President López Obrador’s morning press conference.

“Today we have clear signs that [the third wave] is in a process of reduction and we anticipate that this reduction will continue throughout the coming weeks,” López-Gatell said.

“… At the moment, 30 of the 32 federal entities have a declining epidemic curve,” he said, adding that the figure is up from 17 a week ago.

While it would appear incongruent that the number of active cases was able to decline during a month in which a record number of new infections were reported, the government has long said that not all of the cases reported on a daily basis were necessarily detected that day. Therefore, some of the cases reported in August would actually have been detected in July, or even earlier in the pandemic.

The deputy minister also said Tuesday that hospitalizations of COVID patients are also trending downward in 30 of 32 states.

In other COVID-19 news:

• Serious COVID-19 illness and death is not a major threat to children, López-Gatell said Tuesday.

The coronavirus point man presented data that showed that accidents were the leading cause of death among Mexican children in all age brackets last year with the exception of babies aged less than one year, for whom the most common cause of death was birth complications.

COVID-19 ranked as the 10th most common cause of death among babies aged less than one; ninth among children aged one to four; 10th among children aged five to nine and 10 to 14; and seventh among adolescents aged 15 to 19.

“The key message for mothers and fathers is that COVID-19, compared with the reality that all minors live, is a very low, very small, cause of mortality, … 10 or 20 times lower [than accidents],” López-Gatell said.

• Puebla and Hidalgo currently have the highest occupancy rates for general care beds in COVID wards, federal data shows. Just over 70% of such beds are in use in both states. Seven other states have rates above 60%. They are Tlaxcala, Durango, Oaxaca, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco and Nuevo León.

Colima is the only state where more than 70% of beds with ventilators are taken. The occupancy rate in the small Pacific coast state is 71%. States with rates above 60% are Tabasco, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Jalisco and Nuevo León.

• Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the total number of vaccine doses received by Mexico would exceed 100 million on Tuesday. “The next goal to achieve [is to] end 2021 with 150 million doses,” he said.

Just over 84.5 million vaccine doses have been administered, according to the most recent data. The Health Ministry said Monday that 57.5 million people, or 64% of all adults, have received at least one dose. Of that number, 33.6 million are fully vaccinated, meaning that they have had both required doses of a two-shot vaccine or were inoculated with the single-shot CanSino or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Mexico City, Quintana Roo, Querétaro, Sinaloa and Baja California have the highest vaccination rates in the country with 80-92% of all adults having had at least one dose.

• Abut 50 people staged a protest in downtown Querétaro city on Sunday against coronavirus restrictions, rules requiring the use of face masks and the application of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We want to breathe” and “We want freedom” were among the slogans chanted by people who participated in a protest march from the central square to a nearby park.

The protesters espoused vaccine conspiracy theories such as one that claims they contain microchips and cause human magnetism. They also asserted that COVID-19 vaccines are causing large numbers of deaths.

The protest was held in response to a call on Facebook from a group called Abogados por la Verdad México, or Mexico Truth Advocates. The group has also summoned people to protest in other states around the country.

With reports from Reforma and El Universal 

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.