Information last updated: 22 April, 2020
Non-essential activities suspended until May 30th.
As of April 22th, Mexico has entered Phase III of the contingency, which according the health authorities, signal to a rising number of cases up to the thousands (+9k cases confirmed). A nationwide “Jornada Nacional de Sana Distancia” has been put in place until May 30th, and entails the suspension of non-essential activities in the public, private and social sectors. To date, Mexico has not put in place curfews or mandatory lockdowns. Government authorities have also declared a health emergency.
Response set up and capacity
The Health Secretariat (Secretaría de Salud) is responsible for managing and guiding all health institutions. Additionally, the Health Secretariat, through the Epidemiological and Sanitary Intelligence Unit (UIES, Unidad de Inteligencia Epidemiológica y Sanitaria) of the General Directorate of Epidemiology, issues epidemiological warnings and monitors the pandemic. Furthermore, the National Epidemiological Surveillance System is the set of epidemiological strategies and actions that allow the production of useful epidemiological information for public health. The National Network of Public Health Laboratories and the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference are entities in charge of conducting testing and confirming cases.
According to an OECD report published last November, Mexico has only 1.2 nurses for each doctor, whereas the average among OECD member countries is 2.7. It is estimated that the number of beds won’t cover the demand as projections show that 24,500 people would likely require hospitalization and just over 10,500 could need intensive care. Current capacity is estimated to be around 3,000 ICU beds, including those operated by public hospitals, social security services, Pemex, the army and navy.
Entities / Organizations
• Secretaría de Salud Federal
• Unidad de Inteligencia Epidemiológica y Sanitaria (UIES) de la Dirección General de Epidemiología
• Dirección General de Epidemiología Comité Nacional para la Vigilancia Epidemiológica (CONAVE)
• Comités Jurisdiccionales y Estatales para la Vigilancia Epidemiológica
• Red Nacional de Laboratorios de Salud Pública
• President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador
• Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion
• José Luis Alomía Zegarra, General Director of Epidemiology
Mitigating factors - What is being done?
- 9 January – The General Directorate of Epidemiology published a Preventive Notice of Travel to China.
- 28 February – The first case in Mexico was confirmed (35-year-old male from Mexico City, with previous travel to Italy.
- 14 March – The Epidemiology General Directorate updated the Preventive Travel Notice to countries with local transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
- 15 March – Mexico confirmed 41 confirmed in total, all tied to previous travel to Italy, the United States, Spain or Germany.
- 18 March – Work meeting on COVID-19 between national committees of Emergencies and Health Safety; First death from coronavirus in Mexico.
- 23 March – Actions of “Jornada Nacional de Sana Distancia” began to be carried out, which will last until April 19th.
- 24 March – Work from home is ordered to public servants, except for essential functions. Preventive measures are imposed on the public, private and social sectors; the government puts outs a recruitment call for medical personnel.
- 25 March – Government authorities declared Phase 2 of the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico.
- 27 March – Government implements extraordinary measures including allowing the extraordinary use of all medical and social assistance resources of the public, social and private sectors existing in the affected and neighboring regions; eliminates public bidding procedures for all medical equipment, diagnostic agents, surgical and healthcare materials, hygiene products, amongst others; and puts in place measures to avoid price speculation.
- 30 March – A health emergency is declared.
- April 16 – the extension of the Jornada Nacional de Sana Distancia is extentded until May 30th (from a tentative end date of April 30th. Lopez Gatell announces that by May 17, states and municipalities with low levels of infection can consider loosening these restrictions (i.e, opening schools).
- April 19 – Mexico City’s hospital are nearing full-capacity “after they received 100 more Covid-19 patients requiring intubation in just two days”.
Risks, vulnerabilities, obstacles
- On March 30th, epidemiologist López-Gatell modeled the estimated hospitalization burden arising from COVID-19 pandemic in two scenarios – with no interventions, and with actions similar to ‘stay at home’ orders. Without any intervention, it is predicted that Mexico’s ICU and hospital capacity would collapse at the end of April.
- The Director of Mexico’s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control Programs said that 0.2% of Mexico’s population, or more than 250,000 people, could be infected with Covid-19 if a widespread outbreak occurs. While it is unlikely that more than 10,000 Covid-19 patients would require critical care treatment at the same time, there is still a significant chance that there will not be enough intensive care beds in public hospitals to accommodate people needing such treatment.
- 50% of Mexicans live below the poverty line, and 30 million Mexicans work in the informal sector – the economic repercussions of the pandemic make 30% more Mexicans vulnerable to fall under the poverty line, particularly as informal workers receive no social welfare benefits. It is estimated that if the economy plunges by 5 percent this year, 1.7m jobs could be lost, including 700, 000 in the formal sector.
- Though migration from Mexico has slowed in recent years, the country received record remittances of $36bn last year from Mexicans abroad — a vital lifeline that will be hard hit as the US economy plummets.
- There are also concerns about whether the government’s new universal health scheme, which has been plagued with problems since its introduction at the start of this year, will be able to cope with an influx of Covid-19 patients seeking free treatment.
Potential actions and demands
- Since the beginning of the contingency, Mexican president Andés Manuel López Obrador has been heavily criticized for his lax response to the pandemic. The President has been criticized for an allegedly cavalier approach to the virus, encouraging people to go out to restaurants, violating more stringent measures recommended by his government; TV Broadcasts have put in evidence how the President and his Cabinet of Ministers have failed to respect the distancing recommendations by the Health Ministry.
- America’s director for Human Rights Watch noted that “President López Obrador’s behavior in the face of the COVID-19 crisis is a profoundly dangerous example that threatens Mexicans’ health”. Furthermore, when the Mexican government confirmed the first case of COVID-19 at the end of February, President López Obrador blatantly misinformed the Mexican public, mentioning that “according to the information available, it is not terrible or fatal. It is not even as bad as the flu.”
- Lopez Obrador has so far refused to ban tourist flights in an effort to protect the tourism industry, which accounts for over eight percent of the Mexican economy. He has also refused to restrict local travel or order a large-scale lockdown on economic activity.
- Regarding the Health sector, Mexican nurses and doctors have voiced fear and demands . over shortages of proper protective equipment.
- Migrant Detention Centers face a new challenge since border closures make deporting migrants to their home countries an unlikely situation. Migrants demand to be freed or sent back home, given the lack of sanitary conditions at detention facilities. Yet, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid has closed offices, leaving migrants defenseless which has led to several riots across centers.
- Security problems persist in Mexico, and will probably be exacerbated as the pandemic continues. Not only domestic and gender violence cases are expected to increase, but petty theft and robberies as well. Government authorities have adopted a gender perspective in the campaign to combat COVID19, providing informational material and emergency telephone numbers to attend cases of domestic violence.
- Article from our blog: “Domestic violence in Mexico in times of COVID-19″.
- Federal government web page dedicated to providing official information on the COVID 19 pandemic https://coronavirus.gob.mx/
- Ministry of Health: Updated report on the number of cases and visualization by entity http://ncov.sinave.gob.mx/mapa.aspx
- World visualization on the number of COVID cases, developed by Navid Mamoon and Gabriel Rasskin, students at Carnegie Mellon University shorturl.at/qxDJ2
- Platform created by five graduates of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the project arose from concerns about the consequences of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Mexico https://bit.ly/346VNRO
- Frena la Curva: Guide of citizens’ initiatives to promote resilience and innovation throughout the pandemic: https://bit.ly/3bBMGLV