The federal government announced on Tuesday that Mexico has now entered a phase of local transmission of Covid-19, one day after the World Health Organization (WHO) made the same announcement.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said that the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico has not yet reached an “inflection point” at which the number of cases begins to increase rapidly and therefore there is still an opportunity to contain the outbreak.
“This is the time [to act] and therefore we want to formally declare the beginning of stage 2,” he said.
The official expressed confidence that the measures the government is taking to limit the spread of Covid-19, such as the commencement of a social distancing initiative on Monday and the postponement and cancellation of large events, will be successful.
“We’re going to be able to bend the curve, we’re going to be able to have less transmission,” López-Gatell said.
“We will continue to have transmission, the expectation is not to put an end to the epidemic from one moment to the next. I also want to be clear that success in reducing transmission … will lead us to a longer epidemic,” he said, adding that extending the outbreak will allow authorities to better “manage the risk” and ensure that the health system is not overwhelmed.
After noting that the WHO reported on Monday that Mexico has transitioned from a stage of “imported cases only” to “local transmission,” the deputy minister stressed that only five community transmission cases have been detected.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 have, however, increased significantly over the last week and four deaths have now been attributed to the infectious disease.
Health authorities announced 51 new cases on Monday, taking Mexico’s total to 367. Of that number, 292 cases are imported – the people infected recently traveled abroad – and 70 cases are linked to direct contact with such people. Authorities also announced that there were 826 suspected cases of Covid-19.
López-Gatell told reporters at the government’s nightly coronavirus press conference on Monday that two new Covid-19 deaths had been reported.
A 55-year-old man who suffered from obesity and diabetes died in Jalisco and a 71-year-old man with diabetes and kidney problems passed away in Mexico City, he said.
López-Gatell also reported that 11% of the people confirmed to have Covid-19 are receiving treatment in the hospital while the other 89% are recovering at home. Men account for 63% of the confirmed cases and women the other 37%.
Every state except Tlaxcala has a confirmed case of Covid-19, the deputy minister said.
Mexico City continues to have the highest number of confirmed cases, with 60, followed by Nuevo León, Jalisco, México state and Quintana Roo, where there are 48, 46, 22 and 22 cases, respectively.
López-Gatell said that Mexico City is expected to have the largest outbreak of Covid-19 in the country due to its high population density. About 9 million people live in the capital and an additional 5 million come into the city on a daily basis for work, education or other reasons.
For its part, the Pan American Health Organization is predicting that there will be as many as 700,000 serious, potentially fatal, cases of Covid-19 in Mexico but President López Obrador has asserted that the country is prepared to respond to the outbreak.
Speaking at his morning news conference on Tuesday, the president called on the public to act “with prudence, without despairing, without panicking and with the resolute conviction that we have a lot of strength.”