On 10 June, Mexico’s deputy health minister Hugo López-Gatell repeated his view that widespread testing is not the solution to controlling the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The comments by López-Gatell, who is responsible for leading Mexico’s coronavirus response at national level, followed the announcement by the governor of Mexico City (CDMX), Claudia Sheinbaum, that the country’s capital would be increasing its testing capacity ahead of the easing of isolation measures. López-Gatell’s stance on testing is also counter to the advice from the World Health Organization (WHO). This risks adding to concerns that the federal government led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s response to the pandemic in Mexico is misguided, as its strategy of economic reactivation appears increasingly out of step with advice from international health organisations.
- During the government’s daily Covid-19 update yesterday, López-Gatell said there is no “technical, scientific, logical or automatic connection” between the number of tests carried out and successful control of the virus. López-Gatell has maintained on a number of occasions that Mexico has not increased testing numbers out of choice, and not for lack of resources.
- This came after Sheinbaum presented the new “detection, protection, and shelter” strategy for CDMX in a virtual press conference yesterday. The strategy will begin this week but is due to come into full effect on 15 June, the same date that the city is due to begin easing restrictions on movement.
- This new strategy consists principally of a considerable increase in testing, with CDMX health secretary, Oliva López Arellano, saying that the aim is to carry out close to 100,000 tests per month, between 2,700 and 3,000 per day, starting in July.
CDMX, which concentrates 33,173 of Mexico’s 129,184 confirmed Covid-19 cases, remains in the ‘red light’ alert level of the federal government’s four-tiered plan for easing isolation measures and re-starting the economy, with Sheinbaum noting that a change to the alert level depends on the federal government.
In brief: Mexico’s agricultural exports rise
* Mexico’s agriculture and rural development ministry (Sader) has reported that the value of the country’s agricultural exports increased by 6.4% to US$7.32bn in the first four months of the year, compared to the same period in 2019. According to Sader, the result was driven by a 52.7% increase in coffee exports and a 4.9% increase in avocado exports during the period. Sader noted that this is the second highest value of exports recorded for the January-April period in the last 28 years, and emphasised that the agricultural sector is currently one of the main driving forces of the national economy. Mexico’s GDP contracted by 1.4% year-on-year in the first quarter, but Sader noted that according to figures from the national statistics institute (Inegi), activity in the agricultural sector increased by 1.4% year-on-year in the first three months of 2020.