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News Article

Climbing COVID-19 Cases Bring Long Waiting Times

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 01/12/2022 - 17:57

Despite record COVID-19 cases, most Mexican states remain on “green” in the epidemiological traffic light. But citizens are denouncing a lack of tests and medical professionals report high hospital occupancy rates.

The sharp increase in cases led the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) to implement a fully-digital process to allow COVID-19-positive employees to request leave from work. Called Permiso 3.0, this system aims to break the chain of infections by keeping people at home. IMSS had reported long waiting lines and agglomeration as many rushed to request leave after testing positive.

Most COVID-19 cases have been reported in Mexico City, where there are also record long waiting times for testing on private and public laboratories. The sudden increase drove Mexico City’s Ministry of Health (SSA) to establish 11 macro kiosks in 10 municipalities to respond to the growing demand for rapid antigen tests. The ministry explained that the kiosks were located in strategic places to increase accessibility.

SSA, the Ministry of Economic Development (SEDECO), IMSS and the city’s main business chambers and employer organizations have stopped requesting proof of a positive COVID-19 test. Instead, they are urging their staff to isolate when presenting symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat, headaches and body aches.

So far, the pandemic in Mexico has had three peaks, IMSS explains. The first one occurred on July 20-26, 2020, with 48,000 cases, the second on May 30 to June 5, 2021, with 71,000 cases and the third on August 9-15, 2021, with 81,000 cases. “Week 2 of 2022 begins with an increase of 460 percent (92,000 cases) in the last two weeks,” shares Mauricio Hernández, Director of Economic and Social Benefits, IMSS, via Twitter.

Delta became the predominant variant in the country from the 31st week of 2021, representing over 93 percent of cases, said Hernández. In the 51st week of 2021, Omicron represented 82 percent of cases and by the 52nd week 52 it represented 89 percent. The WHO also said that the Omicron variant will be present on around 50 percent of active cases in Europe in just two weeks. 

Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell informed there is a global shortage of COVID-19 antigen tests due to the Omicron variant, which had been reported by the media.

Photo by:   Noah on Unsplash
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst