The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is predicting that there will be as many as 700,000 serious, potentially fatal, cases of Covid-19 in Mexico in which patients will require respiratory support.
Ricardo Cortés, general director of health promotion at the federal Health Ministry, told a press conference on Sunday that PAHO had increased its forecast from 500,000 to 700,000 because of the high rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases in Mexico.
The coronavirus case fatality rate in Mexico is predicted to be 1.2%, he said.
The high levels of obesity place Mexico at a “greater risk” of recording coronavirus fatalities, Cortés said, adding that people with morbid obesity are at particular risk of developing complications if they are infected with Covid-19.
At the same press conference, epidemiology department official Ana Lucía de la Garza Barroso announced that there were 65 new confirmed coronavirus cases, taking Mexico’s total to 316.
She also said that there were 793 suspected cases of the infectious disease that has killed two people in Mexico, a 41-year-old México state man who had diabetes and a 74-year-old Durango man who suffered from hypertension.
The wife of the former man has also been confirmed to have Covid-19 but she is not in serious condition, the newspaper Milenio reported.
De la Garza Barroso said that 90% of the people with Covid-19 don’t have serious symptoms and are recovering at home while the other 10% are in the hospital. Three patients are in serious condition, she said.
Men account for 64% of the confirmed cases and women the other 36%.
Among the 316 confirmed Covid-19 patients are three baby girls. One infant in Jalisco returned to Mexico on March 12 from Spain, where she is believed to have been infected.
The two other babies – one of whom is in Mexico City, the other in Yucatán – caught the disease here from people who had traveled abroad.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico rose from 53 to 316 last week, a sixfold increase in just seven days.
Cortés said that the country is still in stage 1 of the outbreak, meaning that people confirmed to have Covid-19 either traveled abroad recently or had contact with someone who did.
Health authorities are expected to announce in the coming days that Mexico is in stage 2, in which community transmission will become prevalent.
As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the government’s social distancing initiative officially takes effect today.
Cortés said that the aim of the Sana Distancia, or Health Distance, scheme is to flatten the curve of the outbreak of coronavirus in Mexico so that the healthcare system and the population in general can cope with the pandemic.
“The epidemic curve will grow, … that’s certain. … It will grow exponentially like in Italy or little by little like in Japan. With Sana Distancia, what we want is for [the curve] to flatten so that [the outbreak] is manageable for the population and health services. As a society, we must all participate in order to be able to flatten the epidemic curve,” he said.