Mexico coronavirus peak still weeks away, says Hugo López-Gatell

(Reuters) – New coronavirus cases in Mexico will keep rising for weeks to come, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Tuesday, after the number of confirmed cases exceeded several expected peaks for the country in recent weeks.

“We still haven’t reached the maximum point,” Lopez-Gatell said at a regular news conference. “For several more weeks, we will keep announcing there are more cases today than yesterday.”

In recent weeks, Latin America has emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic with a rapid surge in cases, even as the tide of infection recedes in other parts of the world.

Mexican officials have gradually raised the upper end of projections of total fatalities from the novel coronavirus and now forecast up to 35,000 deaths through October.

A study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington last week forecast up to 75,516 deaths in Mexico by August.

The government previously predicted the pandemic would peak in early May, and under U.S. pressure, has begun reopening its vast auto industry which underpins billions of dollars of business through cross-border supply chains.

However, plans to further relax social-distancing measures were put on hold as infection rates have not yet begun coming down.

Lopez-Gatell, who has coordinated the nation’s response, said disaster had been avoided by flattening the curve.

Mexico last week overtook the United States for the first time in daily reported deaths.

On Monday, it registered nearly 3,000 news cases for a total of 120,102 overall infections. Overall deaths surpassed 14,000.