The capacity of several Mexico City hospitals to treat coronavirus patients is already being stretched to the limit weeks before the worst of the pandemic is predicted to arrive.
Eight health care facilities in the capital including the Juárez, La Raza and Mexico General hospitals and the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition are at least 80% full, according to the Mexico City government.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said on Saturday that 468 Covid-19 patients were on ventilators in Mexico City hospitals, an increase of more than 100 compared to last Thursday.
“On the 16th [of April], I said that that there were 356 intubated patients; today [Saturday] there are 468 in different hospitals of the city,” Sheinbaum told a virtual press conference.
She said that the critical coronavirus cases were being treated at facilities run by the Mexican Social Security Institute and the State Workers Social Security Institute, public specialty hospitals including the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) and private hospitals.
Never before has the INER had so many patients intubated at the same time, Sheinbaum said, explaining that about 70 people were on ventilators at the facility in southern Mexico City.
“We’re coming into a delicate phase [of the pandemic]; … That’s why we’re still reminding you that we have to stay at home,” she said.
The newspaper Reforma said that several hospitals in the capital have already reached saturation point two to three weeks before President López Obrador says the worst stage of the coronavirus pandemic will come.
The General Hospital of Iztapalapa – the Mexico City borough with the highest number of Covid-19 cases – is already full, Reforma said.
The public facility, one of four specially designated Covid-19 hospitals in the capital, is referring new patients to the Dr. Belisario Domínguez hospital in the same borough but it is also full.
Reporters for Reforma confirmed that medical personnel at the Belisario Domínguez facility are sending patients to the General Hospital of Tláhuac in the neighboring borough of the same name. However, that hospital doesn’t have beds available for additional patients either.
One suspected Covid-19 patient experiencing breathing difficulties arrived at the Tláhuac hospital by ambulance on Friday but the paramedics were told that they would have to seek treatment at another facility.
On Monday, President López Obrador dismissed the reports of overflowing hospitals and declared there were enough beds to attend to coronavirus cases. He said the necessary infrastructure exists despite the condition in which previous governments left the healthcare system.
As of Sunday there were 2,591 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Mexico City, a figure that represents just under a third of the 8,261 cases across the country. The capital has also recorded the highest number of coronavirus-related fatalities with 183, or 27% of the nationwide death toll of 686.
With almost 30 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents of Mexico City, the infection rate in the capital is more than four times higher than the nationwide rate of 6.46, Health Ministry data shows.
According to the epidemiological surveillance system used by the ministry, there are likely around eight undetected cases of Covid-19 for each confirmed one, meaning that more than 23,000 people in the capital have probably been infected.