Mexico has announced plans to reopen the economy by June 1, so that must mean the COVID-19 pandemic is largely under control there, right?
That appears to be what leaders like President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador want people to believe. The economy there has taken a serious hit, like many places, and the reopening is said to be “cautious and gradual.”
And on the surface, the death toll of 4,200 and 40,000 infections looks a lot better than the situation in the U.S.
Unfortunately, those numbers may be little more than smoke and mirrors as inside sources and an investigative report by Sky News has found that the federal government there is significantly underreporting the country’s public health crisis.
According to a Sky News investigation, the country is actually cremating bodies on an “industrial scale.”
The news team gained access to crematoriums and morgues in Mexico City and learned there’s a three-day backlog in cremation throughout the city’s public crematoriums, with some workers saying more burials will be needed because their burning capacity is exhausted.
They reported that “the bodies don’t stop coming” and staff are working around the clock to try to keep up with the backlog.
Calculations carried out by Sky News indicate that the total number of cremations each day in the urban area of Mexico City total 600; the average number of people dying in the two federal entities covered by the urban area is officially reported at just 374.
This means there were 226 excess deaths, at a minimum, taking place each day in early May that weren’t being reported, and there’s no question that most of them are related to the deadly virus; crematorium sources told Sky that 80 to 90 percent of the deaths they deal with daily are from COVID-19.
Some have even implied that the coffins housing COVID-19 victims are being reused. Temporary morgues in hospitals there are not refrigerated, and families who don’t trust the government are asking funeral home directors to open coffins and confirm that it is their relative who is being cremated.
In fact, Sky witnessed one such interaction in which a funeral director ripped open plastic sheeting to expose a corpse’s face for a family member; no one involved wore a mask, gloves or goggles.
Real numbers could be at least 5x the reported figures
According to Sky’s analysis, the official figures being given by the government are just 19 percent of the actual number there. This might sound pretty familiar to anyone who has followed how figures were reported in Wuhan, China.
Meanwhile, VOX has reported that Mexican doctors, mayors, former government officials, and funerals home directors have said the situation there is horrific, with some estimating that the actual death numbers could be as much as eight times greater than official figures suggest.
National Autonomous University of Mexico molecular genetics lab chief Dr. Laurie Ann Ximenez-Fyvie said: “If Mexico is good at anything, it’s hiding numbers.”
The extent of the outbreak there probably isn’t helped by the fact that some businesses and open-air markets are operating normally there, and social distancing isn’t really part of the vocabulary.
Some people familiar with the situation have theorized that the government wants to just “tough out the virus spread” and then deal with all of the fallout later on. As for the inaccurate death rates, some feel it could be an attempt to keep people in poorer areas from panicking.
Of course, the out-of-control coronavirus outbreak in Mexico could also have big ramifications on the U.S. as people continue to cross the border illegally and potentially bring new infections along with them. Americans should be paying very close attention to how the coronavirus crisis plays out in Mexico and take steps to ensure it isn’t spread across the border.
Sources for this article include: