Mexico has entered its most serious stage in the spread of the coronavirus, which the government calls “Phase 3,” as the spread of the virus is intensifying, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Tuesday.
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Mexico has registered 712 coronavirus deaths and 8,772 infections, with 511 new cases reported on Monday.
Lopez-Gatell said it was vital Mexicans followed government instructions to help the country’s health system.
“Today we want to announce the start of ‘Phase 3’ of the COVID epidemic, remembering that we are in the phase of rapid spread where a large number of infections and hospitalizations are accumulated,” Lopez-Gatell said during a daily morning news conference held by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Lopez-Gatell added that public meetings would not be able to held during this phase and it was vital for people to maintain social distancing.
Mexico has already extended measures to contain the coronavirus until May 30 for some areas, but has suggested that other areas of the country could beginning opening on May 17.
Mexico has tested less than 50,000 people of its 130 million population. Most tests have been done in the countries largest cities.
Even with the declaration of phase 3 due to COVID-19, the federal government also announced the easing of restrictions in over 1,000 municipalities in the country due to low numbers of infections, which partly is a result inadequate testing.
What is Phase 3?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), phase 3 occurs when the disease is found in almost all the national territory and most of the infections are community within the country. In the words of Hugo López-Gatell:
“Phase 3 is the phase of maximum transmission, it is the phase with the highest number of cases per day, it is the phase where the main risk is saturated by the national health system despite the preparation we have and the expansion we have made with the reorganization of civilian units and the support of the Armed Forces through the DN-III and Navy plans ”
All this means that in Phase 3 there is an extensive spread and thousands of people are affected by the coronavirus. The spread and its ties are difficult to break, which requires more drastic strategies.
The Health system will have the support of personnel from the IMSS, ISSSTE, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of the Navy and Pemex for the care of patients infected with the new coronavirus.
There will be groups made up of an intensivist doctor who, with the support of five specialists, will be in charge of treating 25 patients with COVID-19.
A hospital conversion is planned. This means that “all the potential and feasible capacity of our Medical Units” will be used to attend to cases of patients with the new virus, according to the government.