Mexico has published revised figures indicating that the number of deaths caused by coronavirus is at least 60% higher than previously reported.
The new figures came after a review of “excess deaths” and a review of death certificates. More than 320,000 people are now believed to have died from Covid-19 in the country.
This puts Mexico with the second highest number of Covid-related deaths in the world, after the US.
Experts have long warned that Mexico’s true death toll was probably much higher due to a lack of testing. It is also believed that a shortage of intensive care beds in many states has led to a large number of people dying at home.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has faced widespread criticism over his handling of the crisis. The opposition has accused him of downplaying the severity of the pandemic and blamed him for delays in the vaccination programme.
López Obrador, who has himself recovered from Covid-19, has been repeatedly accused by his opponents of not taking the crisis seriously enough and is often seen in public without wearing a face mask.
The revised report issued by Mexico’s health ministry showed that by the end of the sixth week of 2021 there had been nearly 295,000 deaths “associated with Covid-19” – up from the 182,301 confirmed figure given previously.
Since mid-February more than 26,772 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported across Mexico which would take the total to more than 321,000.
That places Mexico above Brazil, which has registered 310,000 deaths, and below the US which has recorded 550,000 fatalities – despite having a population of 126 million which is far smaller than either country.
However, former president Felipe Calderon wrote on his Twitter page on Saturday that “more than 400,000 Mexicans have died, probably the highest figure in the world”.
Last week, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, who is heading Mexico’s response to the pandemic, warned that the country risks a new wave of infections as millions prepare for the Easter holidays which will centre around Sunday April 4.
Easter is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, usually celebrated with great fanfare in the Catholic world.
Easter in Mexico is a multi-week extravaganza after the 40-day fasting and denial of pleasure during Lent.
People usually live it up at Easter, but this year the authorities will be trying to remind everyone the pandemic is nowhere near over.