Mexico recorded its highest daily total of new coronavirus cases since mid-October on Wednesday, suggesting that the country is entering an omicron-fueled fourth wave.
The Health Ministry reported 5,290 infections, lifting the accumulated case tally to just over 3.96 million. It was the highest daily total since October 14, when 5,825 cases were reported, and the second consecutive day that new confirmed infections exceeded 4,000.
Several experts warned this week that Mexico is on the verge of a fourth wave fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant.
The official COVID-19 death toll rose to 299,132 on Wednesday with 188 additional fatalities reported. The number of active cases jumped 22% in the space of a single day to 27,820.
UPDATE (6:10 p.m. CT): The Ministry of Health reported 8,024 new cases on Thursday afternoon, increasing the number of active cases to 34,761.
In other COVID-19 news:
• The number of confirmed omicron cases in Mexico remains low but has risen sharply in recent days. According to global science initiative GISAID, 254 omicron cases have been detected here as of Thursday, a 504% increase compared to last Saturday.
Just over 60% of those cases – 159 – were detected in Mexico City, while 35 more were identified in neighboring México state.
Omicron has been detected in at least 12 other states, including Quintana Roo, Puebla and Baja California.
• Baja California Sur continues to have the highest number of active cases on a per capita basis with almost 300 per 100,000 people. Health Ministry data published Wednesday shows that Mexico City ranks second for active cases followed by Quintana Roo and Baja California. Each of those three states has more than 50 active cases per 100,000 residents.
• Health regulator Cofepris has granted emergency use authorization to the Cuban-made COVID-19 vaccine Abdala. The three-dose vaccine, which hasn’t been approved by the World Health Organization, received a “favorable technical opinion” from experts, Cofepris said Wednesday.
However, the government hasn’t announced any plans to acquire the vaccine, which Cuba says has an efficacy rate of over 90%. Cofepris has now given emergency use approval to 10 vaccines, including the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, CanSino and Johnson & Johnson shots.
• More than 81.9 million Mexicans have been vaccinated with at least one shot, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. About 90% of that number are fully vaccinated.
According to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, 64% of Mexicans have received at least one shot and 57% are fully vaccinated. The government has begun offering booster shots to seniors and intends to roll out additional shots to the rest of the adult population in 2022.
With the exception of youths aged 12 to 15 with underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to serious COVID-19 disease, children younger than 15 have not been offered shots. Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Tuesday that the government has no plans to vaccinate children below that age.