Coronavirus: Ómicron joins Mexico in the worst escalation of covid infections of the entire pandemic

Ómicron tightens in Mexico. Almost 135,000 Mexicans were infected with covid from January 3 to 9, a week in which the maximum record of confirmed cases in a single day was broken and 300,000 deaths from covid were exceeded since the start of the pandemic, despite the under-registration of the official data. There were also three times more positive diagnoses than seven days before. While the country remains mired in what is anticipated as a black month in terms of people sick with coronavirus, health authorities have reported 11,052 confirmed infections and 78 deaths in the last 24 hours, and specialists anticipate that cases will continue to rise .

Although this Monday there were, in fact, fewer cases than this Sunday, the recent panorama suggests an escalation of infections compared to the last weeks of 2021. “Infections are accelerating as had not been seen before, especially by omicron and for the behavior of the people in recent times, “says Jorge Baruch Díaz Ramírez, director of the Traveler’s Clinic of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Díaz Ramírez affirms that it is a combined effect: omicron spreads three times faster than the delta variant and in addition, the population attended meetings and parties with several people in spaces that usually have little ventilation.

Ómicron has already knocked on the doors of the National Palace, the seat of the federal government. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has confirmed this Monday afternoon that he has been infected with covid for the second time. The 68-year-old president, who suffers from hypertension, was infected for the first time in January last year, in the middle of the second wave of infections and in a very different epidemic horizon: mass vaccination had not started.

“The symptoms are mild, I will remain in isolation and will only do office work and communicate virtually until I get ahead,” said López Obrador on his social networks, who received the booster vaccine on December 7 and presented himself to his press conference this morning without a mask and without having been tested. “I think I have the flu,” the president had said before learning of his positive diagnosis. Adán Augusto López, the Secretary of the Interior, will replace him at appearances and public events. There are, in addition, at least two Cabinet secretaries who have made their contagions public: María Luisa Albores, from the Ministry of the Environment, and Tatiana Clouthier, head of the Economy. The governor of Guanajuato, Diego Sinhué, has also announced that he is sick with the virus.

A woman arrives seriously at the Los Venados Hospital in Mexico City on January 9, 2022.
A woman arrives seriously at the Los Venados Hospital in Mexico City on January 9, 2022.Moisés Pablo / CUARTOSCURO

The authorities trust that the number of people hospitalized and deceased has not increased at the same rate as infections, although several specialists warn that, although vaccination is a crucial weapon to reduce serious cases of covid, the volume of sick people can be such that the health system may begin to suffer from these increases in sick people in the coming days. The University of Washington projects in a model that includes variables such as the reluctance to be immunized, the coverage of the booster vaccination and the use of face masks that the omicron peak will be reached in Mexico between the third and fourth week of October.

Díaz Ramírez clarifies that it is difficult to give a very detailed forecast outside of mathematical models, but urges the population to maintain measures that have been shown to be effective such as the use of face masks, the limitation of capacity in shops and avoiding massive events, as well as reduce interaction with unvaccinated people or with incomplete schedules. “Normally, the waves last between three and four months,” says the doctor, “although in the case of omicron, based on the evidence that came from South Africa, this period may be shorter.”

Baja California Sur, Mexico City and Quintana Roo have been consolidated for a couple of weeks as the states of the country with the highest rates of infection per 100,000 inhabitants. Among the three entities, three concentrate a third of the active cases in absolute terms. Hospital occupancy stands at 21% in general beds and 14% in those equipped with ventilators, an increase of two percentage points compared to recent days. “Everything goes up a proportion and a point will come where the health system begins to saturate,” says Díaz Ramírez.

There have also been extensive lines to make appointments for specialties at the La Raza medical center, one of the most important health institutions in the capital and the country. The demand for diagnostic tests, a tool that has become one of the main protagonists of the fourth wave of infections, has increased by 50% in the first days of 2022, according to the National Union of Pharmacy Entrepreneurs. Given the shortage that exists throughout the world, the authorities of Mexico City have urged the population last weekend not to seek a test at all costs and assume that they have covid and isolate themselves if they have symptoms, specifically to who are not seriously ill. The president did the opposite. López Obrador unloaded his work schedule normally and had a meeting with the head of Agriculture, Víctor Villalobos. The perspective of the specialists is that omicron will continue to hit the country and the world with force, which closed the last day with more than 1.7 million infections.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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