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WHO says Mexico in ‘bad shape’ with COVID-19, urges leaders to get serious

A patient speaks to her daughter on a tablet while in bed at a hospital while a hospital staff member stands nearby.
A patient speaks to her daughter on a tablet at a military hospital set up in Mexico City to take care of COVID-19 patients.
(Marco Ugarte / Associated Press)

The head of the World Health Organization said that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the COVID-19 pandemic and urged its leaders to get serious about the coronavirus and set an example for their compatriots.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s comments came Monday as Mexico’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 105,940 — the fourth-highest in the world — with 1,113,543 confirmed coronavirus cases. The country’s true numbers are believed to be much higher, partly because of low testing levels.

“The number of increasing cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome,” Tedros said at a news briefing.

Mexican President Andrés López Obrador has been criticized for often not wearing a mask. Although Tedros did not mention names, Tedros urged Mexico’s leaders to take the pandemic seriously.

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“We would like to ask Mexico to be very serious,” he said. “We have said it in general: Wearing a mask is important, hygiene is important and physical distancing is important, and we expect leaders to be examples.”

The Mexican government’s point person on the pandemic, Hugo López-Gatell, said that all the comments were valuable but noted that the Mexican government had already warned the situation would worsen with the arrival of winter.

Amnesty International says Mexico has reported 1,320 coronavirus deaths among its healthcare workers, the most in the world.

López-Gatell has scolded the media for “being alarmist” about the pandemic and bristled at criticism that the Mexican government is undercounting COVID-19 deaths or providing contradictory and weak advice on wearing masks. He told media outlets that they “don’t have to add drama” to their reporting on the crisis.

Only the United States, Brazil and India have logged more deaths from COVID-19 than Mexico, which passed the 100,000 mark Nov. 19.


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