Mexico coronavirus update: Covid-19 rages across the country

As of today, there are 110,026 confirmed Mexico coronavirus cases, 19,015 confirmed active cases, and 48,822 suspected cases. There were 166,049 negative cases, 13,170 confirmed deaths, 1,134 suspected deaths, and 324,897 people were studied.

Mexico coronavirus news. Image: Agencies
Mexico coronavirus news. Image: Agencies

In the IRAG (Severe Acute Respiratory Infection) Network, of 793 reporting hospitals, 772 (97%) submitted their report; there are 12,623 beds available, and 10,084 occupied (44%). Nationally, 56% of general hospital beds are available and 44% are occupied. In beds with ventilators, 62% are available and 38% occupied.

With the exception of Zacatecas, all states in Mexico are in red color on the epidemiological risk warning light. This means that it is not time to return to the public space.

Because the country is geographically large, the epidemic is not coordinated and does not occur at the same time in all states. Epidemic curves are temporarily out of the epidemic phase: in some regions, they are on the rise, and in others, they are on the decline.

Measures to mitigate the epidemic are under the control of the state health authorities. In the 31 entities with red warning signals, only essential activities operate and restrictions in public space must be maintained.

As the Covid-19 epidemic progresses, more tests are being done for epidemiological surveillance; there is no limit or pre-established quotas. The percentage of positivity is one of the criteria to be considered in the risk indicator that will govern the "New Normal".

Mexico coronavirus numbers
Mexico coronavirus numbers

Mexico City and the State of Mexico are the entities with the highest number of accumulated cases. The incidence of the virus at the national level continues to increase with currently 13.2 per 100 thousand inhabitants.

Graph of confirmed and accumulated Mexico coronavirus cases
Graph of confirmed and accumulated Mexico coronavirus cases

This is how the "new normal" works

The sanitary measures will remain, but contemplates the reopening of essential activities such as mining, construction, and manufacturing of transportation equipment. Beginning June 1, social, educational, and economic activities are in line with a risk warning. The warning signal will have four colors, which indicate the level of alert and protocol of care for citizens.

Red - maximum health alert

At this stage, only the essential activities are in operation. It includes mining, construction, and manufacturing of transportation equipment.

Yellow - intermediate

At this stage, the activities are limited to public space and full economic activity.

Orange - high

At this stage, essential activities are in operation and non-essential ones are reduced. Maximum care must be taken with vulnerable workers, such as pregnant women, older adults, and people with depressed immune deficiency.

Green - normal day

Resumption of school, social, and leisure activities. At this stage, the economic activity will be full, with the reopening of bars and gyms, among others. The return to classes is also included.

Why you should put on the face shield

Undersecretary of Health, Hugo Lopez Gatell, explained why the use of the mask is an auxiliary measure, despite the fact that some states will continue to restrict mobility in public spaces for a defined period of time, the mask has become an auxiliary element of prevention in closed spaces.

The use of this feature is recommended in places such as public transport, since it is impossible to maintain a healthy distance inside a minibus, bus or subway.

The use of the mask does not prevent a healthy person from catching Covid-19, but it does work so that an asymptomatic citizen or one who is infected and does not yet have symptoms can spread it to someone else. Previously, mouth coverings were not recommended because the emphasis was on keeping people at home, which led to a 75 percent reduction in expected cases.

Museums will reopen in Mexico, but with restrictions

As part of the federal government's strategy to gradually rejoin the "new normal", the Ministry of Tourism issued a "National Guideline for the Reopening of the Tourism Sector", which includes museums.

These basic measures, aimed at preventing and mitigating as much as possible the risks of contagion of the new coronavirus, establish, among other measures, temperature control for visitors and staff; exhaustive registration of visitors where there is some contact number in case of an emergency; Inquiry into the health and mobility of visitors (consultation on travel in the last 14 days), obligatory use of face masks, maintaining a social distance of 1 meter between each person, delimiting in rooms the spaces that must be occupied by visitors, not holding concentrations or events of more than 100 people, suspending guided visits and tours in groups of more than 10 people (unless they are family) and programs and events aimed at older people and other vulnerable groups.

Artists and participants in events should be urged not to attend if they feel unwell. Visitors who show signs of illness 'should be turned away and encouraged to seek medical attention'.

It is also suggested that cordoning off outdoor events to limit participation and, in general, permanent cleaning and disinfection of the facilities, and especially of tables, railings, display cases, benches, and all furniture used by visitors where the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing Covid-19 can be housed.

"These measures should be effective as of June 1 as a priority in the new normality; based on the region published in the DOF (Diario Oficial de la Federación), which establishes a strategy for the reopening of social, educational and economic activities," the document states.

How coronavirus cases are counted in Mexico?

The National System of Epidemiological Surveillance (SINAVE) is carrying out fieldwork to compare the numbers of COVID-19 in the country. This is a community of doctors and epidemiologists, men and women, from all the states. Patient by patient, they conduct interviews and collect case study information on symptoms, comorbidities, travel history, and contacts.

All of the information that you see presented overnight at the press conference gets released because someone in a community or district health unit was there with a case study and asked the patients for all of this information.

Once they have collected this information, they report it and upload it to an online system of the Sisver (System of Epidemiological Surveillance of Respiratory Disease). A password is entered and, with this database, the cases of COVID-19 are counted.

Through this system, they enter all the information they took from the patient. The moment they click on Submit, the information falls into the federal database. Each of the health care units and jurisdictions has access to this database. It is the states themselves that capture their results.

Through the data on that platform, the federal government extracts the information that the states capture and prepares the slides on COVID-19 that are presented daily. They also use the information to make decisions about the epidemic.

Protocol for hotels that continue to provide service

As a result of the collaboration that has been carried out by the Ministries of Tourism and Health, they announced the guidelines that should be followed by the country's accommodation centers during the health emergency that is occurring in Mexico and the world.

Taking into account considerations and suggestions from SECTUR, the team of the Deputy Minister of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, issued the "Protocol of care for people of Mexican and foreign nationality who are in Mexican national territory in accommodation centers during the mandatory quarantine by COVID-19", which determines the procedures to be implemented.

First, the document indicates that the lodging industry, which includes hotels, lodging platform services, and the OTAs (internet travel agencies) will stop receiving reservations and will reschedule all the ones they already have during the period of the "Sana Distancia" policy.

However, in the case of guests for essential economic activities, they will be able to receive them with a maximum occupancy of fifteen percent of their capacity. These travelers will have to present a proof of employment specifying their activity, so that the accommodation center can prove that it is one of the branches defined as essential activities described in the Official Journal of the Federation.

For their part, the state secretariats of tourism, in coordination with the national associations of the hotel industry, will prepare a list of lodging centers designed to concentrate all national and foreign guests who present respiratory symptoms, and another for foreign guests without respiratory symptoms, while these await the support of their respective governments for their repatriation procedures.

The document specifies that the lodging centers authorized for the attention of the contingency will be preferably those that have medical service, and will have to maintain close communication with the state health services.

It also authorizes members of national associations of the hotel industry to allow foreign citizens to stay, for humanitarian reasons, on a restricted basis in the facilities of the accommodation centers defined and clarifies that the mobility of persons in such accommodation centers will be strictly limited to their rooms, since hotels will close their sports and social facilities, such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, spas, restaurants and entertainment centers, among others.

Foreign nationals staying at the centers will be obliged to contact their diplomatic representations to start the procedures for returning home; while the accommodation centers must apply preferential rates to foreign nationals with respiratory symptoms, who are obliged to be isolated for a minimum of fourteen days, or until further notice from the health authorities.

In Mexico, there will be no massive coronavirus testing

With Mexico ready to reopen its own economy in a few weeks, the message from top health officials couldn't be more different: Mass testing is not only unnecessary, but largely a waste of time.

Certain industries considered essential, such as auto parts manufacturing and construction, will be able to reopen as of June 1. Other sections of the economy will remain in phases over the coming weeks.

Mexican health officials believe the outbreak will peak in the country no later than May 20, although some studies suggest it could come as early as late June, even though the country has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

The government's strategy is to evaluate mainly only those with severe symptoms of the virus while monitoring people with suspected but undiagnosed cases of covid-19, thus creating a sample.

The data from that sample are extrapolated for application to a larger population using models. The idea is to give the government a picture of what is happening in a wider area without spending resources on massive testing. The plan is consistent with Mexico's testing strategy from the beginning of the outbreak.

The total number of actual cases could be in the millions, but that establishing a response policy does not require knowing the exact number of potential cases; knowing that it is high enough to take drastic action is enough. That's why the government forced schools and most non-essential businesses to close in March and has since urged people to stay home.

But the lack of evidence has led to criticism that the paucity of confirmed data has left the government with, at best, an incomplete picture of how serious the outbreak is a few weeks before the country begins to reopen.

Mexico has no publicly known plans for large-scale testing, although authorities say they are tracking contacts between suspected and confirmed cases.

Dr. Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico's leading epidemiologist and the public face of response to covid-19, flatly rejects the idea that the only way to safely reopen is through massive testing, although he added that he has great respect for the experts who say that.

"Of course, there is always a risk of having an outbreak again, but we will be able to carefully monitor the reopening, so that when an outbreak occurs, we will take action," he said.

His argument: It's too early in this pandemic to know which approach will ultimately be more successful or whether both could work.

"I would say that we shouldn't jump to conclusions just based on how famous one approach is rather than another," Lopez-Gatell told CNN. "Let's wait for the global public health community ... to have scientific discussions to see what are the best experiences to learn from for the present and the future".