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Mexican president announces he has COVID-19 for 2nd time

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has come down with COVID-19 again.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
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Mexico’s president on Monday announced that he has come down with COVID-19 a second time, as coronavirus infections spike in the country and tests become scarce.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote that he tested positive after sounding hoarse at a morning news briefing. He contracted COVID-19 the first time in early 2021.

“Even though the symptoms are light, I will remain isolated and only work from the office and hold online meetings until further notice,” the president wrote in his social media accounts. “In the meantime, Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López Hernández will take over for me at press conferences and other events.”

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Two of the president’s Cabinet secretaries, the heads of the Environment and Economy departments, announced that they had tested positive in recent days.

Earlier in the day, the president told Mexicans to assume they have COVID-19 if they have symptoms. The number of confirmed cases last week spiked by 186%.

López Obrador claimed that the Omicron coronavirus variant is “a little COVID,” noting that hospitalizations and deaths have not increased at the same rate as the case count. However, experts say those are lagging indicators that may not show up for weeks after infections spike.

Reading advice posted on Twitter, the president said Mexicans with symptoms should stay at home, take paracetamol (acetaminophen) and isolate, rather than going out and trying to find tests.

Since Christmas, private pharmacies and the few available testing centers have been overwhelmed by long lines. The Twitter advice drew on guidelines from Mexico City health authorities and others.

López Obrador’s administration has long refused to implement mass testing, describing it as a waste of money. He called on companies not to require COVID tests for employees.

Mexico last week passed 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, but so little testing is done in the country of 126 million that a government review of death certificates puts the real toll at almost 460,000.

The virus spike was largely responsible for the cancellation of 260 flights from Thursday to Monday, the president said, as airline employees became infected and had to isolate.

José Merino, the head of Mexico City’s Digital Innovation Agency, said the capital had the same number of COVID-19 cases as the peak of January 2020, but only 6% of the hospitalizations. He wrote in his Twitter account that 70% of those hospitalized were not vaccinated.


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