Mexico recorded a new single-day record for Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday and its third highest total for new cases, while the number of vaccines administered against the infectious disease rose to almost half a million.
The federal Health Ministry reported 1,584 additional Covid-19 fatalities, lifting Mexico’s official death toll to 142,832. The number of deaths registered Tuesday exceeds the previous record (set a week earlier) of 1,314 by 270, or 20.5%.
The ministry also reported that Mexico’s accumulated case tally had increased by 18,894 to just under 1.67 million. The only days on which a higher single-day tally of cases was reported were last Friday and Saturday when new case numbers exceeded 20,000.
There are currently an estimated 102,797 active cases across Mexico while the national hospital occupancy rate for general care beds is 60%. Eight states have an occupancy rate above 70%. They are Mexico City, 89%; Guanajuato, 87%; México state, 85%; Hidalgo, 84%; Puebla, 82%; Nuevo León, 81%; Morelos, 75%; and Nayarit, 71%.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell reported that 498,122 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been administered to health workers. Of that number, 488,513 doses, or 98% of the total, were administered as the first of the two required shots. Only 9,609 health workers have received both of the required doses.
Mexico received a shipment of almost 220,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday but no further consignments are scheduled until February 15 because the United States pharmaceutical company is currently upgrading its plant in Belgium in order to boost production capacity.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Tuesday that millions of doses of the Sputnik V, CanSino biologics and AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines will arrive in the coming weeks and that the government expects to inoculate almost 14.2 million people by the end of March.
After all health workers have been vaccinated, Mexico intends to inoculate more than 12 million seniors in a period of about two months. The government’s 32-billion-peso (US $1.6-billion) plan to vaccinate Mexico’s entire population of almost 130 million is expected to conclude in March 2022, the newspaper El Universal reported.
In other Covid news:
• The Michoacán Congress approved a law on Tuesday that stipulates that people can be fined, ordered to complete community work or even placed under house arrest for failing to wear a face mask in public places including stores and public transit. According to the law, police or state health officials should first give a verbal warning to mask scofflaws. If they subsequently decline to put on a mask, a written warning should be issued. If a person continues to refuse to wear a mask, he or she can be fined up to 1,344 pesos (US $68).
People issued fines can choose to complete community work in lieu of paying them, according to the law, which also stipulates that such work should not last for more than three days. Authorities can also order mask scofflaws to stay at home for up to 36 hours in addition to the other sanctions.
Businesses and public transit operators can be fined up to 2,688 pesos (US $137) if they don’t comply with the mandatory face mask law. Businesses could also be temporarily or permanently shut down.
Governor Silvano Aureoles praised the new law in a Twitter post.
“Today Michoacán has taken another important step in the management of the health crisis,” he wrote.
Lawmakers in several other states including Morelos, Chihuahua and Colima have also approved laws that make the use of face masks mandatory and establish penalties for those who don’t comply.
Michoacán, currently high risk orange on the federal coronavirus stoplight map, has recorded more than 37,000 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 3,113 Covid-19 deaths.
• Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat announced that an agreement has been reached with business leaders for commercial establishments in the state capital to close on a staggered basis and reduce their business hours as part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Restaurants, supermarkets and markets are among the businesses that will open later, close earlier or both.
The statewide hospital occupancy rate in Oaxaca is 53% for general care beds, according to federal data, but 14 of 49 Covid-designated hospitals have reached capacity and the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in Oaxaca city reached a new peak this week.
The southern state, currently orange on the stoplight map, has recorded almost 32,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic and 2,234 Covid-19 deaths. About 30% of the cases were detected in Oaxaca city.
The state government has launched a new social media campaign to encourage citizens to follow the measures designed to stop the spread of the virus such as the use of face masks and staying at home as much as possible.
• Authorities in Guasave, Sinaloa, ordered the closure of bars, cantinas, party halls, sports centers, street markets and beaches due to a recent increase in case numbers and deaths. Active case numbers have almost tripled in the municipality this year, rising from 56 on January 2 to 154 on Tuesday.
Located about 150 kilometers north of the Sinaloa capital Culiacán, Guasave has recorded 68 Covid-19 deaths this year. Mayor Aurelia Leal López said that stricter restrictions were necessary because the coronavirus situation has worsened as a result of gatherings and parties over the Christmas-New Year period.
In addition to closing some businesses, local authorities will ramp up inspections to ensure that supermarkets, department stores, banks and other commercial establishments are complying with health rules. Municipal police have been instructed to break up any large private gatherings and parties and ensure that people don’t try to access local beaches.
Guasave authorities didn’t say when they expected to lift the tighter restrictions. The municipality has recorded almost 4,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 550 deaths.
The accumulated case tally in Sinaloa, currently an orange light state, is just over 29,000 while its Covid-19 death toll is 4,457.