A hospital in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas, has begun storing the bodies of Covid-19 victims in an audio-visual room because its mortuary is full.
The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) said in a statement that it had approved the provisional use of the No. 6 Regional General Hospital’s audio-visual room as a morgue due to the high number of deaths caused by the infectious disease.
IMSS, which operates the hospital, said the room was adapted for that purpose and that it meets the conditions required for the storage of bodies.
It said that a high number of Covid-19 fatalities had occurred at the hospital as the coronavirus outbreak and death toll in southern Tamaulipas continue to grow.
IMSS said that funeral homes and crematoriums in and around Ciudad Madero are overwhelmed and cannot pick up additional bodies from the hospital as quickly as they usually would.
The institute added that the construction of a new mortuary on land adjacent to the hospital has been approved but it’s unclear when it will be completed.
Although an overwhelming number of bodies would suggest a high number of deaths, Ciudad Madero has recorded only 39 Covid-19 deaths, according to state government data, while fatalities in the neighboring municipalities of Tampico and Altamira total 83 and 33, respectively.
A refrigerated trailer with the capacity to store 100 bodies arrived at the Carlos Canseco General Hospital in Tampico last week, the newspaper Reforma reported.
Tamaulipas’ statewide Covid-19 death toll is 968 while just under 16,000 people have tested positive.
Ciudad Madero has recorded the fifth highest number of cases among the state’s 43 municipalities, with 1,496 as of Wednesday. Ranking first to fourth for cases numbers are Reynosa, Matamoros, Tampico and Nuevo Laredo.
Tamaulipas Health Minister Gloria Marina Gamboa said earlier this week that seven hospitals in Ciudad Victoria, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Tampico, Reynosa and Ciudad Mante are completely full due to a spike in admissions of coronavirus patients.
The national coronavirus tally rose to 408,449 on Wednesday with 5,752 new confirmed cases registered by the federal Health Ministry. Just over 7% of those cases – 29,631 – are active, official data shows, while there are 89,978 suspected cases.
The official Covid-19 death toll rose to 45,361 on Wednesday with 485 additional fatalities registered. Mexico is close to passing the United Kingdom for Covid-19 deaths to rank third in the world behind the United States and Brazil.
At the Health Ministry’s coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday night, Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía presented data that showed that Covid-19 death numbers began to decline in recent weeks.
He also showed that case numbers in Guanajuato stabilized between epidemiological weeks 28 and 29 – July 4 to 18 – after rising steadily during several previous weeks. Covid-19 deaths in the Bajío region state declined 37% between weeks 28 and 29.
Guanajuato has recorded 19,648 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, the fifth highest tally in the country, and 923 Covid-19 deaths.
In Michoacán, case numbers increased until week 25 – June 14 to 20 – before declining in week 26 and remaining relatively stable until week 28.
Alomía said that estimated case numbers increased 16% between weeks 28 and 29, explaining that it remains to be seen whether the spike is the beginning of a “new outbreak” or just a “ripple in the plateau.”
He said that Covid-19 deaths have been on the wane in Michoacán since epidemiological week 24 – June 7 to 13 – and declined 52% between weeks 28 and 29.
The Pacific coast state has recorded 9,329 confirmed cases, the 16th highest tally among the 32 states, and 710 Covid-19 deaths, according to federal data.
Located northeast of Michoacán, Querétaro has had a “very controlled” epidemic, Alomía said, presenting data that showed that case numbers were extremely low until epidemiological week 18 – April 26 to May 2 – when they began to rise.
Weekly cases rose to just below 300 in mid-May and remained relatively stable until early July. Case numbers spiked in week 28 – July 4 to 11 – but declined 14% the following week, Alomía said.
The health official said that Covid-19 deaths in Querétaro have been declining since mid-June and fell 25% between weeks 28 and 29.
The Bajío region state has recorded 3,457 confirmed cases, the fourth lowest tally in Mexico after Colima, Zacatecas and Nayarit, and 463 Covid-19 deaths.
With total case numbers having increased from 90,664 at the end of May to more than 408,000 currently – a 350% hike – and the economy in tatters, Mexico, like countries around the world, is anxiously waiting for the development of a vaccine.
If and when one becomes available, the government is prepared to spend as much as it needs to inoculate the public, Health Minister Jorge Alcocer told reporters at Wednesday night’s coronavirus press briefing.
Flanked by Alomía and the government’s coronavirus czar, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, Alcocer said it was unclear how much Mexico will have to pay to buy vaccines but estimated that the cost could be US $20 each.
But the health minister, who has seldom appeared at the nightly Covid conferences, stressed that the cost is unimportant because the purchase of vaccines represents a much-needed “investment” in health.
“In the Mexican government we don’t speak about budget limits. … Everything necessary will be done to cover … the purchase of what is needed.”