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Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mexico - statistics & facts

The first COVID-19 infection in Mexico is reported to have been detected in January 2020, despite claims that this was a recording error. By end May the number of cases already surpassed 100,000 and in November it reached one million, with the number of deaths nearing 100,000. Mexico City is the federate entity with the highest number of cases. At the beginning of the pandemic, cases may have been underestimated due to a lower testing rate.

How did the Mexican government respond to the pandemic?

It has been almost eleven years since the influenza virus A-H1N1 started to spread in Mexico in the early spring of 2009. The country was then the epicenter of the outbreak, which left 9.5 million infected and around eight thousand deaths nationwide. Nonetheless, this is not the only problem the Mexican health system had to overcome in recent years. The outbreaks of the chikungunya and Zika viruses, along with the dengue fever, still pose a serious threat to Mexico’s public health. Despite its ability to control the spread of previous epidemics, seven out of ten Mexicans believe that their government’s capacity to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak is insufficient.

The initial position taken by the President Andrés Manuel López Obrador regarding the pandemic was not well received by the Mexican public or international media. The Mexican head of state seemed to ignore his experts by shaking hands publicly, holding rallies and even trying to minimize the severity of the situation in public press conferences. However, the government ended up declaring a national health emergency on March 30. Since that day, all non-essential activities in the public and private sectors would be suspended, reinforcing the social distancing actions implemented a few weeks prior.

COVID-19 takes a toll on the Mexican economy

The COVID-19 lockdown, even if not as strict as in other Latin American countries, heavily impacted the Mexican economy, which is the second largest in the region. Inevitably, the preventive measures put most economic activities on halt. The coronavirus outbreak, the global fall of oil prices and the ensuing Mexican peso devaluation hit the Mexican Stock Exchange hard in 2020. The IPC, Mexico’s most important stock exchange index, experienced a 26 percent loss in value from February to March. This financial turmoil also reduced Mexico’s expectations of economic growth for the year. Since the pandemic, Mexico’s forecasted gross domestic product shows an expected two-digit decrease for 2020.

The restrictions enforced by the government to control the spread of the virus have had a direct impact on Mexicans’ everyday life. A significant part of the labor force has now adopted home office practices, which was not so common in the country in previous years. With more time to spend at home, an increased demand for news in social media has been detected. Consumer behavior among Mexicans has been affected as well, with an increase in sales of personal care products such as antibacterial gel, soap, and toilet paper. Visits to shopping malls and stores have sharply decreased and most people with plans to travel on holidays were forced to cancel their trips.

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