The coronavirus is spreading more quickly now than at any other time in the pandemic.
The federal Health Ministry reported 107,945 new cases in the first 10 days of January, including a single-day record of 16,105 cases on Saturday.
The confirmed case tally over the 10-day period represents an 8% increase compared to the final 10 days of 2020, during which 100,179 cases were reported.
In contrast, it took Mexico 96 days to record its first 100,000 cases: the first two cases of the coronavirus in Mexico were reported on February 28 and the accumulated tally reached six figures on June 3.
The rapid pace at which the virus is now spreading is emphasized by the fact that the single-day record for case numbers was broken on four consecutive days last week: 13,345 cases were reported last Wednesday, 13,734 on Thursday, 14,362 on Friday and 16,105 on Saturday.
Health authorities also registered a five-figure case tally on Sunday, with 10,003 new cases pushing Mexico’s accumulated total to 1.53 million.
Weekly case figures also illustrate the gravity of the current situation. A total of 80,492 new cases were reported between January 3 and 9, more than in any other seven-day period of the pandemic.
The final full week of November marked a clear beginning to the dire situation Mexico is now facing. The Health Ministry reported 68,715 new cases between November 22 and 28, a 133% increase compared to the previous week’s tally of 29,435.
The weekly case tally surpassed 60,000 in every subsequent week, rising above 70,000 in the second and third weeks of December before a new record in excess of 80,000 was set last week.
Malaquías López, a public health professor at the National Autonomous University and spokesperson for the university’s Covid-19 commission, told the newspaper Milenio that it’s not surprising that case numbers have recently spiked. He attributed the increase to end-of-year celebrations and a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in some states.
Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll has also increased at a rapid pace this month. Authorities reported 7,899 additional fatalities over the first 10 days of 2021, a 9.5% increase compared to the final 10 days of last year.
More than 1,000 fatalities were reported on five consecutive days between last Tuesday and Saturday, including a single-day record of 1,165 deaths last Wednesday. The death toll now stands at 133,706 after 502 fatalities were added on Sunday.
Further cause for concern is that the more contagious strain of the coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom in September has made its way to Mexico. The Tamaulipas Health Ministry reported that the B117 variant of the virus, considered to be up to 70% more transmissible than most other strains, was detected in a 56-year-old man who traveled to Matamoros via Mexico City, arriving in the northern border city on December 29.
Federal health authorities said Sunday that the man confirmed to have been infected with the new virus strain is a citizen of the United Kingdom who was recently in that country. Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía said that the man is in hospital receiving treatment and intubated.
Tamaulipas Health Minister Gloria Molina Gamboa said that crew and other passengers on the Mexico City-Matamoros flight were tested for the coronavirus and their results came back negative.
Meanwhile, federal government communications coordinator Jesús Ramírez – President López Obrador’s spokesman – said Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
“I am in good health but I’ll be working from home following all the sanitary protocols,” he wrote on Twitter.
Ramírez appeared with López Obrador on Friday, passing a microphone to him at the president’s regular news conference. Neither man was wearing a face mask.
Despite his close proximity to Ramírez, López Obrador hasn’t gone into isolation. He held his regular news conference on Monday morning, announcing that an ambitious program to vaccinate more than 12 million seniors by the end of March will begin in February.
The president appeared to recognize that his government’s efforts to control the pandemic have failed.
“The only option we have, the only alternative to combat the pandemic, is the vaccine,” he said.