US Leads in COVID-19 Cases; Mexico Reports Exceptional NumbersBy Jeroen Posma | Fri, 03/27/2020 - 11:37
Three days ago, Mexico moved to Phase 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic although it has so far only recorded 585 cases since the first confirmed infection on February 28. In comparison, Brazil confirmed its first case two days before Mexico and today has 2,988 cases and 77 deaths. The US yesterday recorded its worst day in the COVID-19 pandemic as the country reached more than 82,000 confirmed infections and nearly 1,200 deaths. Numbers in the US increased almost tenfold from 8,800 infections and 149 deaths over the past week.
On the evening of March 26, Ana Lucía de la Garza Barroso, Director of Epidemiological and Operational Research at the Ministry of Health, reported two COVID-19 deaths, 110 new confirmed infections and 2,965 negative tests during the preceding 24 hours. These numbers raise a number of questions. Is COVID-19 advancing at an exceptionally slow pace in Mexico? Is this confirmed by the fact that only 3.6 percent of the 3,075 tests applied in the past 24 hours came out positive? People who present mild symptoms are not being tested. Is this hiding the real spread of the pandemic?
In the absence of fact-based answers to these questions, the best way forward is preventing the spread of COVID-19. Mexico can do better in this area according to Human Rights Watch. “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is putting the people of Mexico in grave danger with his reckless disregard for providing accurate information on the COVID-19 pandemic,” the organization stated in a press release yesterday. The press release continued by stating that President López Obrador refuses to follow public health advice and is failing to provide accurate information to the public about the severity of the problem. “He has directly contradicted the recommendations of health authorities, encouraging Mexicans to continue going out in public while health officials ask Mexicans to stay at home. He has also continued to hold rallies and attended events across the country, hugging, kissing and shaking hands with supporters despite recommendations to avoid crowds and close contact.”
“President López Obrador’s behavior in the face of the COVID-19 crisis is a profoundly dangerous example that threatens Mexicans’ health,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director at Human Rights Watch. “He has shown outrageous unwillingness to provide accurate and evidence-based information about the risks of a virus that has already killed thousands of people worldwide. He needs to take this issue seriously for the sake of the health and lives of the Mexican people.”
“As recently as Monday, when many state and local governments had begun implementing measures closing public gathering places like bars, restaurants and cinemas and urging residents to remain at home when possible, President López Obrador tweeted a video encouraging Mexicans to go out to restaurants, saying: ‘If you have the means to do it, continue taking your family out to restaurants and diners. That’s what will strengthen the economy,’” stated the Human Rights Watch press release.
“The Pan American Health Organization has predicted that there will be as many as 700,000 serious, potentially fatal, cases of COVID-19 in Mexico, in which patients will require respiratory support. The majority of Mexicans rely on the country’s public healthcare system, which has fewer than 2,500 intensive care beds and just over 5,500 ventilators, according to the latest figures provided by the government.”