Mexico reported the third highest coronavirus-related death rate in the world on Saturday, behind the United States and Brazil, with 46,688 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Health officials have warned that the 424,637 reported cases in the country – making it the sixth in the world – are not an accurate account of the coronavirus situation, due to lack of testing and under- virus declaration.
Mexican Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell has reportedly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and opted for lighter tactics and less widespread testing. Ten state governors called for his resignation on Friday, according to the BBC.
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Lopez-Gatell has reportedly accused the complexities surrounding the testing of justifying the lack of confirmed cases.
In response to the health secretary’s claims, a think tank, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MACCIH), has launched an investigation into the number of death certificates compared to the number of reported deaths from coronavirus.
They found that between March 18 and May 12, the number of reported coronavirus deaths was three times lower than the number of suspected coronavirus-related deaths in Mexico City alone.
The investigation found that in more than 3,000 records of people who died, COVID-19 was listed as the “probable”, “possible” or “suspected” cause of death – meaning that the number of coronavirus cases and reported deaths could be as much as three times the number of confirmed cases.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has also been criticized for his nonchalant initial stance on the coronavirus pandemic.
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The government has been slow to decentralize testing sites, preventing private companies and states from providing their own testing. Thousands of new cases have emerged at private medical centers, which are not being reported in the federal system, according to a Reuters report in mid-June.
Obrador has joined the list of leaders who have refused to wear a mask – including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for COVID-19 – and President Trump, although the US president has started wearing a mask publicly and encourage the use of masks in July.
“Do you know when I’m going to put on a mask?” When there is no corruption. Then I’ll put on a mask and stop talking, ”Guardian Obrador told reporters on Friday.
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Global coronavirus cases have reached nearly 17.7 million with nearly 700,000 deaths.
The United States has reported the most cases in the world, with 4.6 million and 154,000 deaths. Brazil has the second highest number of cases, with 2.6 million and over 92,000 deaths.