Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Worst of the pandemic will be seen at year’s end: former health minister

Mexico will see a large new wave of coronavirus cases in the next two months, predicts a former federal health minister.

In an interview with the newspaper El Universal, José Ángel Córdova Villalobos, health minister during the 2006-2012 government of former president Felipe Calderón, said the recent increase in case numbers is not the start of a new wave of infections but rather a spike in a lengthy first wave.

“This new outbreak that we’re seeing in Europe, which is truly very significant, is not what we’re seeing here. What we’re seeing here is a new ascent in the number of cases … [but] we’re still in the same wave,” he said.

Although Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said this week that there are already “early signs” of a new wave of infections, Córdova predicted that new case numbers will “probably” decrease from their current level before making a resurgence in November and December.

“The most dangerous stage is probably coming, … we’re talking about November and December, [that’s] when we’ll have a true new outbreak as is happening in Europe,” he said.

Córdova, a medical doctor, said the federal government should not be afraid to order a new lockdown to mitigate the impact of the second wave he predicts is coming.

He also urged the government to ramp up Covid-19 testing – Mexico has only tested about 17,000 people per 1 million residents, promote the widespread use of face masks and encourage people to go to hospital sooner rather than later.

Córdova criticized the government for not doing those things from the beginning of the pandemic. He is one of six former health ministers who last month presented a new national strategy to stop the spread of the coronavirus that includes a nationwide testing campaign and the mandatory use of face masks.

The government made no response to the former ministers’ proposals.

Asked whether the federal government has done anything in response to the pandemic that is worthy of praise, Córdova nominated its efforts to bring medical supplies into the country from China.

He acknowledged the importance of the role Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard played in securing supplies from China early in the pandemic and also recognized his efforts to secure access to vaccines if and when they become available.

The former minister predicted that a vaccine could be available at the end of December or beginning of January but said that it is unlikely that Mexico will have access to a large number of does before the second quarter of 2021.

Until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated against the coronavirus, citizens and authorities need to continue taking steps to slow its spread, Córdova said.

Lifting all economic and social restrictions before the majority of people is vaccinated is “impossible,” he said. “We have to understand that.”

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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