Mexico’s official Covid-19 death toll could exceed 100,000 by the end of the year and confirmed cases could total more than 1 million, according to a National Autonomous University (UNAM) mathematician.
Arturo Erdely told the newspaper Milenio that fatalities could go past six figures by the end of 2020 and case numbers could exceed seven figures if the pandemic wanes only slowly, as is currently occurring. If face masks are not made mandatory in the entire country, the numbers could be even higher, he said.
As of Wednesday, the official Covid-19 death toll was 58,841, an increase of 707 compared to Tuesday, and the accumulated case tally stood at 537,031, up 5,792.
Noting that some states have not yet reached the peak of their local epidemics, Erdely predicted that there will be 65,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths by the beginning of September and 79,000 at the beginning of October. Fatalities will reach 88,000 at the start of November and 95,000 by December 1, he said.
“We could close the year with more than 100,000 deaths due to Covid-19,” Erdely said.
According to official statistics, Erdely added, “confirmed cases are also trending downwards but very, very slowly.”
As a result, there will be sufficient time this year for “many more cases” to accumulate, he said. “At this pace, we could go past a million cases by the end of the year.”
As Mexico’s testing rate is low – only just over 9,000 people per 1 million inhabitants have been tested to date – and targeted at people with serious symptoms, the real number of citizens who have been infected has almost certainly already passed 1 million.
Estimating a fatality rate of 0.6 per 100 cases (Mexico’s rate is currently 10.9), one infectious disease specialist said in late July that Mexico’s real coronavirus case tally could be more than 7 million. Independent studies have also found that Covid-19 deaths have been grossly underreported in Mexico.
The UNAM mathematician stressed that his end-of-year predictions are for the government’s official numbers. With regard to face masks, Erdely said it was unfortunate that the federal government hasn’t “forcefully”promoted their use.
The government’s coronavirus point man, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, did wear a face mask at Wednesday night’s coronavirus press briefing and for the first time in almost six months of nightly appearances left it on for the entire hour-long conference.
He reiterated that new case numbers in Mexico are on the wane and thanked citizens for continuing to follow coronavirus mitigation measures and maintaining a “healthy distance” from each other.
The deputy minister called on people to remember that the coronavirus outbreak is still active despite the decrease in case numbers and urged them to not drop their guard.
The Health Ministry estimates that there are currently just over 40,000 active cases across Mexico with the largest current outbreaks in Mexico City, México state, Guanajuato, Nuevo León and Coahuila.