Coronavirus
López-Gatell López-Gatell: 'Providing care will be a significant and difficult challenge.'

Deputy health minister warns of Covid flare-up in flu season

'We're going to have full hospitals again,' predicts Hugo López-Gatell

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Although new coronavirus cases have numbered in the thousands per day for months, Mexico’s coronavirus czar has warned that a new wave of infections could begin in the middle of October, coinciding with the beginning of the flu season.

In an interview with Milenio Television, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said that new coronavirus case numbers have declined in recent weeks but that a new outbreak, “as is happening in European countries,” is likely to commence in the middle of next month.

Case numbers and hospitalizations of coronavirus patients would peak in November or December in such a scenario, he said.

With regard to influenza, López-Gatell said that nobody knows exactly when the new season will start but added that there is no doubt that Mexico will have one. He predicted that flu cases will be seen in the first half of October and that the peak of the outbreak will be in November, December or January.

With both the coronavirus and the seasonal flu set to coexist, hospitals across the country will come under great pressure, the deputy minister said.

“I want to … make it clear that … we’re going to have full hospitals again; to be able to provide care [to everyone] will be a significant and difficult challenge,” López-Gatell said.

However, he expressed confidence that the health system will be up to the task, asserting that hospitals have made the necessary preparations.

The deputy minister acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico has been long – the first cases were detected here at the end of February – because of the mitigation measures put in place to slow the virus’s spread.

The main objective of the coronavirus restrictions – including the suspension of all nonessential activities between late March and the end of May – was to reduce the number of new cases recorded on a daily basis, López-Gatell said.

He asserted that new case numbers have been on the wane for eight weeks, although the last time that fewer than 2,000 new cases were reported on a single day was May 13.

An “orderly easing of lockdown measures” is crucial in order to continue to reduce the number of new coronavirus infections, the deputy minister said.

Coronavirus cases and deaths in Mexico reported by day.
Coronavirus cases and deaths in Mexico reported by day. milenio

Although the federal government has been criticized for not advocating more forcefully for face masks, López-Gatell asserted that it does recommend their use. However, he stressed that a face mask doesn’t provide complete protection against the coronavirus, pointing out that a person can be infected through the eyes.

Addressing the possibility that a person could have Covid-19 and influenza at the same time, López-Gatell said that the chances were “extremely low.”

Vaccines against the latter arrived in Mexico six weeks ago, he said, rejecting claims that the government was still awaiting delivery.

López-Gatell announced Monday that the Health Ministry had purchased 35 million doses and that flu vaccinations for the general public would begin October 1.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s accumulated tally of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 710,049 on Wednesday with 4,786 new cases reported. The Covid-19 death toll rose to 74,949 with 601 additional fatalities.

Although case numbers and deaths continue to rise, it may not be long before the coronavirus stoplight risk map could see some states’ risk levels drop to green, or low risk.

López-Gatell said on Wednesday that 16 states could go green “soon.” There were hints last week that Campeche and Chiapas could be the first to reach the low-risk level.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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