Mexico reaches grim milestone while battling 3rd Covid-19 wave

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Aug 19 (EFE).- Mexico has reached and exceeded the grim milestone of 250,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths even as the country has eclipsed its previous record high for number of daily cases amid a third wave of the pandemic.

But the government remains confident that cases will fall in a couple of weeks thanks to its vaccination campaign and is preparing for the return of children to in-person schooling later this month.

The number of Covid-19 deaths in Mexico is the fourth-highest globally behind only the United States, Brazil and India, although authorities estimate that the real number of fatalities long ago eclipsed the 350,000 mark.

During the most recent 24-hour period, the country registered its highest daily death toll (940) since the start of the third Covid-19 wave in May and a set its new one-day high for new confirmed coronavirus cases (28,953) dating back to the start of the health emergency.

That raised the total number of confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic to more than 3.15 million.

However, the Mexican government’s coronavirus czar, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, predicted this week that the number of cases will fall within two weeks and insisted that deaths are down despite the high case load thanks to the vaccines.

“Vaccinations have been very useful and have protected the oldest (members of the population), but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the importance of (immunizing) young people,” Malaquias Lopez, a public health expert, told Efe.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration is pinning all of its hopes on its inoculation campaign, which was given a further boost Wednesday when American pharmaceutical company Moderna’s vaccine became the eighth in Mexico to be authorized for emergency use. The government also is completely ruling out imposing further restrictions.

The pace of the rollout, however, has left much to be desired, with only 29,9 million – or 23.7 percent – of Mexico’s 126 million inhabitants having been fully vaccinated.

In addition, 10 of Mexico’s 32 states are on red alert (the highest threat level) due to the high occupancy rate of intensive-care-unit beds.

“I don’t understand those people who don’t want to get vaccinated. I really don’t understand it. There’s the reality. Misfortune has to hit for people to finally believe it,” 55-year-old Gaudencio said outside a Mexico City hospital where his brother-in-law, who did not get vaccinated when he had the chance, is now being treated.

Since no visitors are allowed, he and other family members are taking turns waiting at the entrance for any updates on his condition, which thus far has been “stable.”

Meanwhile, opinions differ about the government’s plan for the resumption of face-to-face instruction at schools on Aug. 30 after more than a year of distance learning via television and Internet in Mexico, one of only a few countries worldwide to maintain that policy for so long.

Unicef on Thursday hailed the government’s decision, but many families are uneasy about the opening of schools amid the third coronavirus wave and want more protective measures to be adopted.

Mexican authorities have ruled out making returning students show proof of vaccination, saying that minors make up only 1.6 percent of Covid-19 patients at hospitals.

But fears about the virus remain even among the vaccinated in Mexico.

Maria del Rosario, a 59-year-old who works in forensic services and had already been vaccinated, recently underwent a coronavirus test after one of her colleagues, who also had been immunized, became infected.

She said she breathed a big sigh of relief when the test came back negative because she endured a tough battle with Covid-19 several months ago and spread the virus to her asthmatic son.

Both of them are still feeling the after-effects of that potentially deadly respiratory illness today, the woman told Efe.

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