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COVID-19: Mexico breaks infection record and records more than 49,000 cases in a day

Death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 301,789 after 320 new deaths, the highest since late November
People wait for COVID-19 rapid tests at a health post set up by the city's Health Secretariat at the TAPO bus station in the Venustiano Carranza neighbourhood of Mexico City.

AP/REBECCA BLACKWELL  -   People wait for COVID-19 rapid tests at a health post set up by the city's Health Secretariat at the TAPO bus station in the Venustiano Carranza neighbourhood of Mexico City.

On Tuesday, the Mexican health ministry announced 49,343 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The new wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant has raised the total number of cases to 4,434,758 and 301,789 deaths since the virus appeared, with 320 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours.

As the epicentre of this new wave, Mexico City has now accounted for one in four positive cases in Mexico, where it is estimated that nearly 300,000 people are infected, with the state of Baja California Sur, the Mexico City metropolitan area and San Luis Potosi particularly affected.

Trabajadores del cementerio que usan equipo de protección entierran a una víctima no reclamada del coronavirus COVID-19, en el Cementerio Municipal No. 13 en Tijuana, estado de Baja California, México
AFP/GUILLERMO ARIAS - Cemetery workers wearing protective gear bury an unclaimed victim of the COVID-19 coronavirus at Municipal Cemetery No. 13 in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico.
Hospitalisation cases

The level of infections has grown exponentially, but, according to Hugo López-Gatell, undersecretary of health, hospitalisations have grown 10 times less than the number of infections, and he stressed that there is still "room for manoeuvre" to control hospital admissions. 

"Although it is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that spreads very quickly and produces a large number of sick people, in general, the vast majority have mild symptoms, similar to other respiratory illnesses," said the Mexican undersecretary.

Bed occupancy in hospitals stands at 34%, those with ventilators are occupied at 19%, 2% more than on Monday. Although in recent weeks some hospitals have faced moments of significant patient overcrowding. 

Samuel Ponce de León, coordinator of the COVID-19 Epidemic Response Commission at UNAM, points out that, although the Omicron variant has very high levels of infection, symptoms are less severe in vaccinated people, although he estimates that the number of hospitalisations will still increase. "Given the time the disease has been evolving, we would expect that it will probably be this week or next week when we will see the greatest impact on hospital occupancy," he says.

Médicos y enfermeras asisten a los pacientes infectados con la COVID-19 en el Hospital Juárez de México
AFP/RODRIGO ARANGUA - Doctors and nurses assist patients infected with COVID-19 at Mexico's Hospital Juarez.
Vaccination as a barrier to containment

Advances in vaccination have reduced the number of severe cases and deaths compared to previous waves. Nevertheless, Mexico still has more than 5,000 people hospitalised with COVID-19.

Since the vaccines were approved in December 2020, the Mexican government has provided more than 156,419,272 doses nationwide, immunising more than 75,678,648 citizens who have purchased their full regimen.

The country's health authorities expect to provide nearly 18 million booster doses to people over 40 years of age who have already completed their regimen. The Mexican undersecretary of health stressed that "in Mexico, as in other parts of the world, 65 out of every 100 people hospitalised for COVID-19 were unvaccinated or incomplete".

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra