In a land of disbelief COVID-19 is running rampant: 13 photos show Mexico emerging as one of the latest coronavirus hotspots

Rosa Leyva (R) and her nephew Viridiana wait for customers at her stall where she sells plastic flower arrangements and religious images, outside the San Rafael cemetery, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 7, 2020. Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
  • With the seventh-highest global death toll in the world, Mexico is catching up to Brazil as one of the worst-affected Latin American countries.
  • The country has been slow in clamping down on the outbreak after many public officials, including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, refused to acknowledge its severity for a long time.
  • But the government’s handling has not been the only problem: Many Mexicans have developed a stigma around the virus, and believe that it is a hoax or not as bad as it seems.
  • It has also impacted the country’s healthcare workers, who are facing widespread abuse from people who believe they are helping spread the virus.
  • While Mexico has yet to reach peak infections, officials are pushing ahead with plans to reopen the economy.
  • Photos show what it’s like in the country as it tries to tackle the coronavirus amid the turmoil.
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Mexico is rapidly becoming one of the worst-affected countries from the novel coronavirus in the world.

With more than 15,000 deaths, it officially has the seventh-highest global death toll, according to a tracker by John Hopkins University. The government has said the real number of infected people is significantly higher than the official count, according to Reuters.

With a weak health system, high poverty rates, and public officials who long chose to ignore the severity of the virus, the country is now feeling the brunt of it.

But as the numbers continue to climb, the country still plans to gradually reopen its economy as it faces mounting pressure from US officials to power up factories operating at the US-Mexico border.

Photos show what it’s like in Mexico as it faces one of the worst crises in the history of its country.

Like much of Latin America, Mexico is currently emerging as the new epicentre of the novel coronavirus.

Monica Samudio, 46, whose husband Jorge Garcia died from COVID-19, looks out of her new apartment in Mexico City on April 29, 2020. Samudio said she moved from her previous home after feeling discriminated against when she and her husband contracted the disease. Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Mexico has the second-worst death toll in South America after Brazil, according to John Hopkins University.

Throughout the pandemic, Mexico has been very slow to react. For a long time, public officials —including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — did not take the virus seriously and were adamant about prioritising the economy.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks at the National Palace in Mexico City on April 5, 2020. Associated Press

Up until the last week of March, the country was still operating as normal in an effort to keep the economy running.

On April 21, Mexico finally declared it was entering “Phase Three.”Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had not taken the pandemic seriously for weeks, said: “I want to give a guarantee … that we Mexicans are going to be able to overcome this crisis. We are going to win together.”

And it’s paying the price. To date, the country has almost 130,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths, although the figures are feared to be much higher.

A crematory worker pushes the body of a person who died of the coronavirus into a cremation oven at a crematory in Nezahualcoyotl in Mexico City on May 19, 2020. Edgard Garrido/Reuters

According to an investigation by Sky News, government insiders say the figures are “hopelessly inaccurate” and are underestimated by at least a factor of five.

Source: Worldometer

The number of infections and deaths is only expected to rise, with health officials predicting the country is still weeks away from its peak.

Marco says goodbye after a video call with his wife Carla, a patient infected with the coronavirus, as part of a support strategy families at Ajusco General Hospital in Mexico City, Mexico, on May 15, 2020. Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in a news conference on Tuesday: “We still haven’t reached the maximum point. For several more weeks, we will keep announcing these are more cases today than yesterday,” according to Reuters.

But despite the alarming increase in cases, the government is continuing to push for a gradual reopening of the economy.

Nogales Hospital doctor Javier Martinez eats outside his home while his family observes him, before returning to work in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on April 25, 2020. Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Source: Los Angeles Times

The country has been under increasing pressure from US officials to reopen factories that operate on the border. Some businesses never shut down in the first place, which led to many deaths.

Workers from U.S. auto parts maker Aptiv Plc arrive at the plant in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico May 18, 2020. Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Border states in the country are home to more than 6,000 “maquiladoras”, which are largely foreign-owned factories that manufacture products for exports.

Baja California, the Mexican state with the largest number of maquiladoras, has the second-greatest number of Covid-19 deaths, according to the Guardian.

Source: The Guardian

Outside the factories, the virus is also running rampant. In larger cities, many people live in poverty and can’t afford to stay indoors. When market-goers in Mexico City were asked whether they were scared of the virus, they “shrugged their shoulders and said they have greater problems to worry about — like getting food.”

Rosa Leyva (R) and her nephew Viridiana wait for customers at her stall where she sells plastic flower arrangements and religious images, outside the San Rafael cemetery, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 7, 2020. Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Source: Sky News

A large part of the problem is that locals appear to not be taking the pandemic seriously. Since the start of the outbreak, there has been a social stigma attached to being infected with the virus, causing many people not to admit they are ill in the first place.

Mourners forgo social distancing and dance during a ceremony adhering to indigenous Mazahua tradition following the burial of Horacio Servando Parada, 65, who died of the coronavirus, in San Antonio Pueblo Nuevo, Mexico on May 21, 2020. Gustavo Graf/Reuters

Source: Sky News

One doctor who works in Mexico City told Sky News: “Some people don’t even believe it [coronavirus] exists. Patients come here and I tell them, it’s probably COVID, they say no, that doesn’t exist. The national government made that up.”

The marks of goggles and plasters are seen on a nurse’s face after her shift inside the intensive care unit where patients with COVID-19 are treated at Juarez hospital, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Mexico City on April 29, 2020. Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Source: Sky News

The stigma has also led to healthcare workers becoming the subject of a series of attacks, which has included assaulting them, kicking them off public transport, and barring them from leaving their homes.

Healthcare workers wearing protective suits transport a man suspected of being infected with the coronavirus in Mexico City on May 11, 2020. Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Mexican authorities believe that the attacks are most likely linked to rumours that doctors and nurses are responsible for spreading the virus.

The country has recorded at least 44 attacks against medical personnel between mid-March and mid-April, according to data provided to CNN by Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination.

Hundreds of healthcare workers have died, and there have been numerous protests calling for more personal protective equipment (PPE).

A ballet dancer performs outside a private hospital in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 15, 2020. Daniel Becerril/Reuters

Source: New York Times

There has also been little efforts to test people for the virus. Mexico ranks among the lowest in Latin America, with just 0.4 tests per 1,000 people.

Family members of a patient suffering from COVID-19 pray together outside the hospital where he is interned for treatment, in Mexico City on May 19, 2020. Luis Cortes/Reuters

Source: The Guardian

The coronavirus outbreak in Mexico is showing no signs of slowing down. Cristian Morales, the World Health Organisation’s Representative in Mexico, said this week: “We are experiencing one of the most complex and most dangerous moments of the epidemic.”

The coffin of Horacio Servando Parada, 65, who died of COVID-19, is carried to a grave during his burial according to the indigenous Mazahua tradition, in San Antonio Pueblo Nuevo, Mexico, on May 21, 2020. Gustavo Graf/Reuters

Source: CNN