Mexico’s coronavirus cases continued to increase at near-record levels Wednesday, as officials acknowledged the country is on a plateau with few signs of decrease, even as the economy starts reopening.
The Health Department reported that confirmed cases rose by 4,930, the second-highest daily increase to date, to reach an accumulated total of 159,793.
Deaths rose by 770, the third-highest daily number, after one-day increases of 1,092 and 816 earlier this month. Those death tolls rivaled those of the United States. Mexico’s overall death toll now stands at 19,080.
Both case and death totals are clearly undercounts because Mexico does very little testing. Moreover, reporting has been slow and faulty.
The Mexican Social Security Institute, the nation’s largest health care provider, said Wednesday that 957 confirmed COVID-19 deaths had not been added to official counts because the information had not been typed into computer systems. Mexico’s official toll will probably also rise when deaths at home, or deaths where no test were performed, are added.
Health officials acknowledged Mexico is on a plateau, with sustained rates of transmission and deaths, with few if any signs of a decrease. Despite that, business are beginning to reopen after mandatory lockdowns due to the coronavirus.
Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said the numbers indicate a “progressive tendency of prolonging the epidemic … longer than originally predicted.”
López-Gatell had originally predicted a peak in the epidemic in May, but the latest figures show a peak in early June. However, because of delays in testing and reporting — and the large number of suspected coronavirus deaths and cases that may later be confirmed — it is unclear when the peak occurred or it if is still to come.
He also predicted the first wave of the epidemic may not go into definitive decline until September or October, especially in some states are just starting to be hit hard.
It is important to remember that the federal government numbers for COVID-19 cases are only those reported in the public healthcare system, private hospitals and laboratories are not reported by the federal government, so the numbers in this story do not tell the full story about COVID-19 in Mexico.