Mexico City pledged Wednesday to start mass testing to reach 100,000 tests per month by July, while the federal government appeared to stick by its policy of administering very few tests during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the capital will embark on a large-scale testing effort to detect and isolate new infections as quickly as possible as the centerpiece of its plan to reopen its economy. Testing will be paired with an intensive information campaign and an attempt at contact tracing.
The sprawling city of 9 million people, with an equal number or more in the suburbs, has confirmed more than 32,000 infections and more than 3,200 deaths, both considered to be undercounted because of limited testing. With 100,000 tests per month, the city could be able to test one in every 14 residents by the end of the year.
While the capital has by far the most cases in Mexico, there are other hot spots. But the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has refused to apply mass testing, saying it would be a waste of money and effort. Mexico has administered only about 370,000 tests since the pandemic began, in a country of over 125 million. That is about one test for every 335 inhabitants.
On Wednesday, federal Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell lavished praise on the Mexico City plan, calling it “extremely relevant,” “promising” and “one of the most opportune efforts” taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus. But he announced no federal plans to adopt similar measures.
Nationwide, Mexico appears to be stuck on a plateau of relatively high infection and death rates. On Wednesday, the official death toll rose by 708 to 15,357 — one of the highest daily totals yet. The total number of confirmed cases rose by 4,883 to 129,184. Both are clearly undercounted, experts say.
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