COVID-19: Mexico still in the red

COVID-19: le Mexique encore dans le rouge

With more than 22 000 deaths, Mexico has exceeded all its initial expectations concerning the COVID-19, and is forced to push back its economic stimulus plans.

The country of 127 million inhabitants, is in seventh position for the number of deaths linked to the outbreak with 22 584 death Monday for 185 122 cases, according to a count by AFP based on official sources.

These figures are largely in excess of 8,000 deaths maximum as provided for in the ministry of Health which has in the meantime revised its estimates upward with a balance of announced of 35 000 dead, which would place the country ahead of France, Spain and Italy.

“The epidemic is not over yet”

“The epidemic is not over yet… We can not conceive that she could be brutally stopped”, warned at the end of the week Hugo López-Gatell, the under-secretary of state for Health in charge of the strategy against the new coronavirus.

Since 8 June, the rate of infection, however, has slightly slowed down. But this does not prevent Lopez-Gatell call to the “patience” because “it is still too early to talk about decrease”.

“We are on a plateau. The ideal would be to reach the top and start to drop, and think to re-enable gradually the economy”, explains to the AFP Malaquías López Cervantes, an epidemiologist at the national autonomous University of Mexico and former director of the ministry of Health.

This month, the country began a timid recovery in the automotive, mining and construction, as well as in small businesses.

The capital, most populous city and the most affected in Mexico with 5515 dead, is also the largest economic hub. Here, the partial reopening of the restaurants, hotels, shopping centers and religious services, scheduled Monday, has been delayed for a week.

“We will wait for a decrease in the number of contamination,” noted the mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum. In Mexico, to move to the level of “red” to “orange”, the occupancy rate of the hospitals should be less than 65 %.

Hospitalizations have decreased, but not enough, noted Sheinbaum.

“There must at least be that the numbers are declining for two weeks,” according to Alejandro Macías, an epidemiologist in charge of the fight against the H1N1 virus in 2009.

He admits that the particular character of the economy of Mexico, where “millions of people eat them tomorrow with what they earn today,” complicates the situation.

According to official figures, 56 per cent of the Mexican economically active work in this sector, said “informal”. Suddenly, the GDP could drop to 8.8% in 2020.

Small glimmer of hope

A small glimmer of hope : the graveyards of the metropolis begin to experience a slowdown of their activity, after having been saturated in may.

In may, the death toll in the mexican capital have reached a rate of 120% compared to the average of the previous four years, according to a study by the magazine Nexos.

Macías and López-Cervantes see out of one eye skeptical of the model of epidemiological surveillance Sentinel system, which allows to follow the evolution of the epidemic, but without conducting screenings massive.

Among the 36 countries of the Organization for economic cooperation and development (OECD), Mexico is the one that makes the least amount of testing is 3.15 for 1000 inhabitants.

“This test is essential (…) It is necessary to find those who exhibit the first symptoms, track their contacts and send it to quarantine,” says Macías.

The use of the mask has also been subject to controversy between the authorities and the experts. Though he does not discourage explicitly, the president of the left, Andrés Manuel López Obrador refuses to use it publicly.

After having relativized the effectiveness as a first-time, López Gatell now considers the mask as an “auxiliary measure” against the spread.

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