Mexico's undersecretary of health and coronavirus pandemic strategist, Hugo López-Gatell, warned Thursday of the possibility of a third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in his country, the day he surpassed 200,000 deaths linked to the disease.
Faced with such a scenario, the senior official said the Mexican government, led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, had decided to propose vaccinating teachers, to speed up the return to classes in some states, and to concentrate on immunising the six territorial entities in the centre of the country.
"For the moment we will not continue to move forward with the vaccination of teachers and we will postpone the intention to open the education system due to an important technical reflection, the possibility of having a third epidemic wave," López-Gatell told a press conference. He pointed out that the warning is given when the country "has had six weeks of reduction of the epidemic and not when it is resurging".
Currently, the number of estimated active cases in Mexico is 34,959, or one per cent of the total number of sick people who have shown symptoms in the past two weeks.
López-Gatell explained that for the Mexican government "a fundamental sign" is the fact that in some countries, especially in the southern hemisphere of Latin America, but also in Europe, "there is a resurgence of the epidemic", citing countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain and France, where contagions have increased in recent weeks.
He recalled that the epidemics in different countries "do not occur at the same time, they are not synchronised and are out of time", although he highlighted the North American region with Canada, the United States and Mexico, which, he said, "has had a certain degree of synchronisation, but with different intensities".
The Mexican strategist pointed out that in response to these signals, the authorities in his country decided to modify the coverage of educational personnel and redirect them to the care of the population in urban areas, "and a fundamental one is the megalopolis that is made up of Mexico City and the states of Hidalgo, Puebla, Morelos, Querétaro, Tlaxcala and the State of Mexico".
"For pandemic purposes it is as if it were a single entity, so we are going to concentrate our efforts to cover this region, which has the highest population density and the highest risk that it could be the centre of the emergence of a third wave," he said. "If the third wave does not occur, excellent, but we have to be prepared," he said.
Mexico is rolling out a vaccination programme that is currently targeting people over the age of 60, medical staff and education personnel.
On Thursday, Mexico reported 584 new deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 200,211, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
In addition, the country added 5,787 new cases of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus for a total of 2,214,542 infections.
With these figures, Mexico ranks thirteenth in the world in the number of infections and third in the number of deaths from the pandemic, behind the United States and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University in the United States.