Coronavirus
Doctors attend to a COVID patient in serious condition in Mexico City.

COVID roundup: death numbers spike as new cases keep rolling in

The uptick in deaths comes a week after a rise in new cases

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Reported COVID-19 deaths have spiked this week while confirmed case numbers also increased sharply after dipping on Sunday and Monday.

The Health Ministry reported 475 additional fatalities on Tuesday, 532 on Wednesday and 495 on Thursday. Wednesday’s figure is the highest daily death toll since early October. It came a week after a new single-day record of over 60,000 cases was reported.

Mexico’s official COVID-19 death toll increased to 304,803.

An additional 44,902 reported infections on Tuesday, 48,627 on Wednesday and 49,150 on Thursday lifted Mexico’s accumulated case tally to 4.82 million. The estimated active case tally is 302,473.

The top five states for active cases on a per capita basis are Baja California Sur, Mexico City, Colima, Tabasco and Nayarit.

The nationwide occupancy rate for general care hospital beds is 45%, while 28% of those with ventilators are taken. There are currently more than 8,750 hospitalized COVID patients.

In other COVID-19 news:

• President López Obrador defended Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell on Thursday after a judge last week ordered the federal Attorney General’s Office to investigate the coronavirus czar to establish his responsibility for Mexico’s high COVID-19 death toll.

“The services provided to society by Dr. Hugo López-Gatell have been exceptional. He’s a professional of the first order. It’s good fortune that we have a professional with so much knowledge in such difficult circumstances as these. He’s one of the best pandemic specialists in the world. He’s an authority [on the subject], a decent, honest person, an authentic public servant,” the president said.

He asserted that “conservatives” were behind the complaint filed against the Johns Hopkins University-trained epidemiologist.

The case against López-Gatell is the “product of rancor, hate and politicking,” López Obrador claimed.

As cases rise, a teachers' organization has called for a temporary suspension of in-person classes.
As cases rise, a teachers’ organization has called for a temporary suspension of in-person classes.

• The average cost of treatment for COVID-19 in a private hospital has increased 108,000 pesos (US $5,200) in the space of a year, according to data from the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions.

A hospital stay cost 412,000 pesos on average in January 2021, but it now costs 520,000 pesos (about US $25,000) – a 26% increase.

The increased cost of medical supplies is one reason why costs are up. Price gouging could be another factor. Consumer protection agency Profeco late last year accused private hospitals of increasing their prices well beyond the inflation rate.

“Inflation was 2.83% last year and is 5.59% this year. However, the [price] increases at private hospitals have been 15% to 20%,” Profeco chief Ricardo Sheffield said September 29.

• A teachers’ group has called for in-person classes to be suspended until the omicron-fueled fourth wave recedes.

Alianza de Maestros, which has members in 18 states, urged the Ministry of Public Education to close schools until case numbers begin to decline.

“While the authorities have insisted that schools are not spaces of contagion, let me tell you that’s what schools are becoming,” said Carlos Aguirre, the group’s director.

“… We need to put a stop [to in-person classes] at a national level, … for two, three, four weeks, classes should be virtual,” he said.

UPDATE (5:50 p.m. CST Friday, January 28): The Ministry of Health reported 45,115 new cases on Friday afternoon and another 437 deaths.

With reports from El Economista, El Financiero, El Universal and Milenio

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