By Isabel Saco
Geneva, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- The extent of the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico is greater than it appears based on the official statistics, the World Health Organization said Friday.
“Most certainly the scale of the pandemic and the epidemic in Mexico is under-represented. The testing in Mexico has continued to be limited, approximately three tests for 100,000 people daily,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, told a virtual press conference.
“If you compare that to somewhere like the US, which has over 150 tests for 100,000 people daily, test positivity has remained very high, up near 50 percent at times,” he said.
“And that means many, many, many people are either being under-diagnosed or diagnosed late, and certainly this is having a differential impact in the country,” the Irish epidemiologist said.
Mexico is seventh in the world in confirmed Covid-19 cases, with nearly 540,000, and the illness has claimed more than 58,000 lives in the Aztec nation.
The global death toll stands at 792,000 and the US accounts for 174,000 of those fatalities, as well as for 5.6 million of the 22.6 million confirmed cases.
Ryan also pointed to the disparate impact of coronavirus on poor and indigenous people in Mexico.
“There’s a sharp difference in mortality between the wealthier districts and the poor municipalities. And people who live in impoverished areas of Mexico are almost twice as likely to die from Covid as those who live in more affluent areas,” he said.
Among the indigenous populations, who represent around 10 percent of Mexico’s 126 million people, the mortality rate for coronavirus patients is “almost one in four to one on five,” Ryan said.
“So there’s a complex situation in Mexico with this differential impact on the poor, on the indigenous populations, relatively low testing strategy, which means the scale of the epidemic in Mexico is clearly under-recognized. And therefore more could and probably needs to be done to really address the surveillance issues and also the differential outcomes,” he said.
In Brazil, second only to the United States in both cases (3.45 million) and fatalities (more than 111,000), the coronavirus pandemic is showing signs of reaching a plateau.
“The situation in Brazil has somewhat stabilized in terms of the number of infections detected per week. Certainly the intensive care units across Brazil are under less pressure than they were before,” Ryan said.
“But there’s still a very high number of cases in the order of 50,000 to 60,000 a day, and a large number of deaths,” the WHO official added. “There is a clear downward trend in many parts of Brazil. But there are also areas in which the disease is still very prevalent, it’s still unstable in its transmission.”
“So we’re in that sort of difficult period in Brazil where things look like they could be getting better, but it now requires a very, very strong and dedicated approach to drive transmission down and to continue to protect the health system,” Ryan said. EFE