As Mexico’s official coronavirus case tally passed 400,000 on Tuesday, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell called on citizens to wear a face mask as an “auxiliary measure” to help stop the virus’s spread.
Speaking at the Health Ministry’s nightly coronavirus press briefing, the coronavirus czar said that some people have the idea that the federal government is the enemy of face masks or opposed to their use.
But López-Gatell, who has seldom worn a face mask himself and has questioned the efficacy of using one, asserted that is not the case.
“Wear your face mask, wear your face mask,” he urged citizens while briefly wearing one.
The deputy minister said the use of a face mask is an “auxiliary measure” to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Wearing one complements the frequent washing of hands, the “extremely important” practice of social distancing, the covering of one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying at home when one has symptoms of the coronavirus, he said.
López-Gatell said the federal government would not make the use of masks mandatory, as authorities in a majority of Mexico’s 32 states have done, but stressed that doesn’t mean it it doesn’t recommend them.
He added that the government is thinking about making a video that compiles the many times that health officials have advocated for their use.
“The video will be called Wear your face mask and it … will show the innumerable occasions we’ve spoken about face masks,” López-Gatell said.
The deputy minister’s boss, meanwhile, is not keen on wearing them himself. President López Obrador said last Friday there is no scientific evidence that the masks are effective and he would only use one if unable to maintain a healthy distance from others, although recent photographs of events attended by the president indicate otherwise.
Earlier in the press conference, Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía reported that Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus case tally had increased to 402,697 with 7,208 new cases registered on Tuesday. Just under 8% of the cases – 31,128 – are considered active while there are 87,538 suspected cases across Mexico.
Alomía also reported that the Covid-19 death toll had increased to 44,876 with 854 additional fatalities registered. Based on confirmed cases and deaths, Mexico’s fatality rate is 11.1 per 100 cases, well above the global rate of 3.9.
Alomía presented detailed coronavirus data for the states of Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas, which rank 27th, 18th and 31st, respectively, for total cases among Mexico’s 32 states.
He said new case numbers declined in Aguascalientes in epidemiological weeks 28 and 29 – July 5 to 18 – with a 6% drop in the latter week compared to the former.
The small Bajío region state has recorded 3,883 confirmed cases, of which 11% are estimated to be active, and 247 Covid-19 deaths. Aguascalientes city has recorded 2,917 confirmed cases, or 75% of all cases detected in the state.
However, new cases numbers have stabilized in the state capital in recent weeks.
Hospital occupancy for general care beds and critical care beds is 25% and 36%, respectively.
In San Luis Potosí, new infections increased significantly in epidemiological weeks 27, 28 and 29, a period which ran from June 28 to July 18. Estimated case numbers spiked 33% between weeks 28 and 29, according to Health Ministry data.
San Luis Potosí has recorded 8,294 confirmed cases, of which 25% are estimated to be active, and 420 Covid-19 deaths.
“A quarter of the entire epidemic that has occurred until now in San Luis Potosí is an active epidemic,” Alomía said, adding that the current situation is the result of the “acceleration” in new infections seen in recent weeks.
New case numbers have increased considerably in July in the municipalities of Ciudad Valles, Matehuala and San Luis Potosí, the state capital.
Hospital occupancy for general care beds and critical care beds in the state is 40% and 41%, respectively.
In Zacatecas, case numbers remained very low until epidemiological week 23 – May 31 to June 6 – when they began to rise steadily. New infections increased even more quickly in weeks 27, 28 and 29, with a 38% spike recorded between the latter two.
The northern state has recorded 2,422 confirmed cases – the second lowest state tally after Colima – of which 25% are estimated to be active. Zacatecas’ official Covid-19 death toll is 218, the third lowest in the country after Baja California Sur and Colima.
The municipalities of Zacatecas and Guadalupe have recorded particularly sharp increases in case numbers in recent weeks, while new infections in Fresnillo also rose considerably for several weeks before declining slightly in epidemiological week 29.
Hospital occupancy for general care beds and critical care beds in Zacatecas is 42% and 34%, respectively.