It’s been one month since the first case of COVID-19 was reported, and yet, only 12,000 tests for the virus have been given in the country, or 3,000 every week in a country with a population of 129 million people.
Hospitals in Mexico have been flooded with people who show symptoms of COVID-19 but tests are still being refused for most patients because the patient has no history of travel in the previous 14-days or has knowingly come in contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19. A criterion that is now obsolete after community infections have been seen in the country.
To complicate the testing process and properly diagnosing COVID-19 infections in Mexico, the country has refused to allow rapid tests to better understand the virus and its progression through the country.
Mexico has questioned the reliability of rapid tests for COVID-19 and has put little importance on testing and proper reporting of the pandemic as it crosses the country.
Mexico’s COVID-19 reporting isn’t credible
“The numbers of infections of COVID-19 in Mexico are not trustworthy, they are not credible; I will trust the dead more, it is a more truthful number,” warned the expert doctor of health of the Mexican Academy of Health, Alheli Calderón
It is not credible, for example, in Baja California there are only 37 cases, while in California, United States, there are 8,700 cases; that there are 1,413 in Arizona and 18 in Sonora, or that in New Mexico, 315, and in Chihuahua, 11; in Texas, 3,403, and in Coahuila, 57, and in Nuevo León, 78.
Mexico and the U.S. sees millions of people crossing their borders every day for work and pleasure visits between both countries.
“That is why there is no need to pay much attention to the numbers of the confirmed cases, because have told us that it only has 9,100 tests, while in the United States, 540,1252 have been performed, up to 27 March ”, he indicated.
It also contrasts with other countries, such as – he pointed out – South Korea, a nation that carried out 10,000 daily tests for a total of 376,961 to face the pandemic; Italy, 361,060 tests; United Kingdom, 104,866; India, 27,688; Japan, 25,171.
Epidemiologist, Malaquías López, member of the Influenza Committee of the UNAM, said “there is a deliberate concealment of cases and the abysmal difference in infections in relation to the United States and many other nations, is that in Mexico we are only going to know the dead”.
Government downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19
Government officials continue to misinform the Mexican public of the risk posed by COVID-19, including one Governor suggesting that poor people were immune from COVID-19 so they didn’t need to worry, and Mexico’s president has suggested that young people cannot be infected with the virus, which is why Mexico’s infection numbers are so low.
Just last weekend, Mexico’s president recommended that the population not stay home, against the recommendations of his own health officials. He recommended that families get out into the streets and visit restaurants, while many cities were closing restaurants in their community.
Mexico’s president has taken a new approach this week and recommended people stay home and declared a Health Emergency in the country, an acknowledgment that the virus in Mexico is worse than what is being reported and what he has been telling the Mexican people over the last month.
Mexico’s health system won’t be able to manage COVID-19
Even before the pandemic reached Mexico, the health system was strained and reported shortages on lifesaving drugs for cancer patients and those infected with HIV, many patients were denied treatment because drugs were not available, including children diagnosed with cancer.
Mexico’s growing population of diabetes has placed stress on the public healthcare system for years, a system that already has difficulty operating. Many patients in Mexico’s public healthcare system are required to bring their own toilet paper and pillows, and a relative to care for patients while in the hospital due to lack of services and funding.
Mexico’s newly elected president began overhauling the healthcare system in Mexico for millions of Mexican. The overhaul has caused confusion within the healthcare system and patients, leaving millions of Mexicans without healthcare and healthcare providers unsure who is eligible for care under Mexico’s public health system. A pandemic is only exacerbating the problems in the healthcare system.
Even with such low numbers of COVID-19 being reported, many states have found the need to install temporary hospitals throughout the country and Mexico City is currently looking at using closed hotels and convention centers to help the medical needs in the country.
Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, gave reports on March 24, on the infrastructure in hospitals and the human resources available.
Mexico faces a great challenge from the perspective of this study, since together the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), the Institute of Security and Social Services of State Workers (ISSSTE), the Ministry of Health (SSA), Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) and the Secretary of the Navy, accumulate only 83,331 units destined to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The accumulated 49,000 available beds, 9,000 emergency beds and 2,466 ICU; 1,000 ambulances and 5,525 ventilators, numbers that will not be enough for the estimated 100,000 cases in the month of April.
In addition, the balance of the supplies required to prevent the spread of the virus in health care centers reported that there are approximately 4 million common examination gloves and 4 million face masks, also with 32 thousand liters of alcohol-based gel and 5 thousand liters of liquid soap.
A previous report gave an account of the human resources available throughout the country: 37,596 general practitioners, 112,000 nurses, 440 epidemiologists and epidemiologists, and 1,284 emergency physiologists and urologists, who provide day-to-day services in different hospital centers in Mexico.