The number of estimated active coronavirus cases across Mexico has exceeded 100,000 for the first time since August as the fourth wave of infections continues to gain momentum.
Active infections rose to 103,806 on Thursday, according to Health Ministry estimates, a 29% increase compared to Wednesday.
There were fewer than 35,000 estimated active cases on December 30, meaning that current infections have practically tripled in the space of a week.
There is little doubt that the highly contagious omicron strain is behind the surge in case numbers, although confirmed cases of that variant only number in the hundreds.
The number of new COVID cases reported by the Health Ministry has increased every day this week, hitting 25,821 on Thursday – a figure just 3,000 below Mexico’s single-day record, recorded during last year’s delta-fueled third wave.
The accumulated case tally now stands at 4.05 million, while the official COVID-19 death toll – considered a significant undercount – is just shy of 300,000 and will likely pass that grim milestone when the Health Ministry publishes its daily COVID report on Friday evening.
The office of President López Obrador said in a Twitter post Friday that the arrival of the omicron variant has caused an increase in case numbers but not in hospitalizations and deaths.
“… Only 19% of general [hospital] beds and 12% with ventilators are occupied. … The vaccine saves lives,” it said.
More than 82.1 million Mexicans have received at least one shot, the Health Ministry said Friday, and 90% of that number are fully vaccinated.
About two-thirds of Mexico’s total population of approximately 126 million people is vaccinated and just under 60% is fully vaccinated.
In other COVID-19 news:
• About one-quarter of the 100,000+ active cases – approximately 27,000 – are in Mexico City but Baja California Sur easily has the highest number on a per capita basis with close to 800 per 100,000 people.
• At a municipal level, the Baja California Sur capital, La Paz, has the highest number of active cases with just under 4,000.
The Mexico City boroughs of Gustavo A. Madero, Álvaro Obregón and Iztapalapa rank second to fourth with more than 3,000 active cases each.
Rounding out the top 10 are Benito Juárez (Cancún), Quintana Roo; San Luis Potosí city; Mérida, Yucatán; Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City; Chihuahua city; and Tlalpan, Mexico City.
• Aeroméxico canceled at least 43 flights out of Mexico City on Friday due to staff shortages. Flights to Guadalajara, Mérida, Ciudad Juárez, Monterrey, Tijuana and Cancún were among those canceled.
At least 83 Aeroméxico pilots have recently been infected with the virus. The airline canceled 22 flights on Thursday.
“The delay or cancellation of flights is not a decision we take lightly and it is always the last resort,” Aeroméxico said in a statement. “… We invite our customers to remain attentive to the status of their flight through our official channels.”
• Health regulator Cofepris has granted emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 antiviral pill made by United States pharmaceutical company Merck, President López Obrador announced Friday. He said that Cofepris was expected to approve Pfizer’s antiviral pill soon. AMLO said he would make both pills available in public hospitals.