The federal Health Ministry reported a single-day record of 8,438 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, lifting Mexico’s accumulated case tally to 370,712.
It was the first time that more than 8,000 additional cases were reported since the coronavirus was first detected in Mexico almost five months ago. Thursday’s tally exceeded the previous single-day record of 7,615 cases by 11%.
The Health Ministry also reported 718 additional Covid-19 fatalities, lifting Mexico’s death toll to 41,908.
Almost 9% of the total confirmed cases – 31,995 – are currently active, according to federal data, while there are also 89,547 suspected cases.
Based on past positivity rates, the Health Ministry estimates that Mexico’s accumulated case tally is 413,074 and that active cases total 53,349.
National data presented at Thursday night’s coronavirus press briefing showed that 47% of general care hospital beds set aside for coronavirus patients are currently occupied while 38% of those with ventilators are in use.
Speaking at the news conference, the director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control Programs said that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Mexico because it arrived in a “sick country.”
Citing almost 150,000 deaths in 2018 due to heart disease and more than 100,000 caused by diabetes, Ruy López Ridaura said the health situation in Mexico needs to change but acknowledged that it won’t happen overnight.
He said that 86% of people who have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Mexico had at least one identified existing health problem, the most common being diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease.
López said that 28% of those who have died had one identified comorbidity, 26% had two underlying health conditions and 32% had three or more chronic problems.
The number of people who have been infected with the coronavirus is undoubtedly much higher due to Mexico’s low testing rates.
Covid-19 testing is a vexed issue in Mexico. Many experts have called for the federal government to ramp up testing in order to identify more cases, isolate those who tested positive and their close contacts and thus limit new outbreaks of the virus.
But Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s coronavirus czar, has said that the government is not in interested in testing Mexicans en masse because doing so would be “useless, impracticable and very expensive.”
He asserted on June 10 that widespread testing would not lead to improved control of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no technical, scientific or logical connection between the number of tests and control success. It all depends on how the tests are used, with what objective, at what time, which people [are tested] and most importantly what decision stems from a test. I could test everyone every day and it wouldn’t lead to epidemiological control,” López-Gatell said.
The newspaper El Universal reported on Friday that the federal government has asked authorities in Mexico’s 32 states to test only 10% of people with coronavirus symptoms, although at least eight states have ignored the advice.
Authorities in Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Querétaro, México state, Morelos, Nuevo León and Mexico City are using their own resources to perform more tests than the number advised by the federal Health Ministry, state government sources told El Universal.
Authorities in Mexico City, the country’s coronavirus epicenter, announced last week that they plan to ramp up testing considerably and have already set up health kiosks in 34 infection hotspots across the capital to detect more cases.
Mexico City Health Minister Oliva López Arellano acknowledged in an interview with El Universal that authorities took the decision to increase testing beyond the 10% level that the federal government recommends.
She said that testing helps authorities “identify chains of infection” and “cut” them.
Officials from several other states also spoke of the benefits of testing widely, highlighting that the identification of asymptomatic cases is particularly helpful to curbing transmission of the coronavirus.
In Jalisco, Governor Enrique Alfaro has implemented his own testing regime in collaboration with state-run and private laboratories that identifies coronavirus cases via both gold standard PCR tests and rapid tests.
Authorities in the western state have made significant efforts to test health workers as well as people with mild coronavirus symptoms and their close contacts.
A total of 24,635 coronavirus cases have been identified in Jalisco, according to state government data, yet federal authorities have only reported 11,473 because they don’t include rapid testing data or the results of tests from private labs in official statistics.
Similarly, Nuevo León government data shows that 26,856 people have tested positive for Covid-19 yet federal authorities are currently reporting that there are 13,720 confirmed cases in the northern state.
Nuevo León has the eighth highest coronavirus tally among Mexico’s states, according to federal data, and Jalisco has the 12th highest. However, the states would rank third and fourth, respectively, if the federal Health Ministry accepted and reported all of their data.
“We decided to do a significant number of tests in order to diagnose and isolate patients in a timely manner,” said Nuevo León Health Minister Manuel de la O Cavazos.
In his state – where authorities are reporting coronavirus data from private laboratories and hospitals as well as health facilities that are not accredited by the federal Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference – the number of tests being performed is in accordance with international standards for “a pandemic of this type,” the health minister said.
“We’re reporting double the cases that the federal government reports [for Nuevo León] and we’re going to keep doing it because it’s the right way to do things. It’s about human lives.”
Source: El Universal (sp)