The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic has been on the wane for 14 weeks but Mexico could face additional large outbreaks, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Wednesday.
“At all times we have to have a clear mind; there could be not just a fourth wave but fifth, sixth and seventh waves,” he told reporters at an event at the National Palace to launch Mexico’s influenza vaccination campaign.
“The United States is going through its seventh [wave],” the deputy minister added.
The federal government’s coronavirus point man said that an increase in case numbers could occur in winter because saliva droplets stay in the air longer when the weather is colder, increasing the risk of transmission.
“So theoretically it could be that the cold season increases the probability of an increase of the virus, of any respiratory virus,” López-Gatell said.
“We have highlighted the joy that having 14 weeks of a reduction in the incidence of COVID-19 cases gives us, but … while there is COVID activity in the rest of the world, in any country of the world including Mexico, there can be a re-emergence [of the virus],” he said.
“… We have to be expectant in that sense. The exact date [of a new outbreak] can’t be known. COVID still has very great variability in time and space, it doesn’t have a predictable pattern.”
In other COVID-19 news:
• López-Gatell said the federal government currently has no intention of withdrawing its recommendation that face masks be used in open spaces. He said the government wouldn’t stop recommending the use of face masks – indoors and outdoors – until there is a global stabilization of the pandemic.
Despite the government’s recommendation, President López Obrador is seldom seen wearing a mask.
• A total of 142,988 new coronavirus cases were reported in October, a 54% decrease compared to September and a 72% decline compared to August, which was the worst month of the entire pandemic for new infections with more than half a million registered.
The Health Ministry reported 10,860 COVID-19 deaths last month, a 40% drop compared to September and a 41% reduction compared to August. January was the worst month of the pandemic for fatalities with 32,729 reported.
• The Health Ministry reported 3,588 new cases and 269 additional COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. Mexico’s accumulated tallies are currently 3.81 million and 288,733, respectively. Estimated active cases number 23,841.
• Almost 126.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in Mexico, according to the latest official data. More than 74.6 million people have received at least one shot, and almost 60.7 million of that number – 81% of the total – are fully vaccinated.
López-Gatell announced last Friday that all Mexican adults had been offered at least one shot. He said that 83% of adults were vaccinated, but the vaccination rate falls to about 60% if the entire population – adults and children – is considered.
• Only 20% of general care hospital beds set aside for coronavirus patients are occupied and just 16% of those with ventilators are in use, the Health Ministry said Tuesday. There are just under 3,300 hospitalized COVID patients across the country, according to federal data.