Mexico, 4th country to reach 100,000 deaths from COVID-19

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico surpassed the 100,000 death mark from coronavirus on Thursday, becoming only the fourth country in the world to reach that number, behind only the United States, Brazil and India.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, the country’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico has 100,104 confirmed deaths from coronavirus. The mark was reached less than a week after the Mexican government reported that it had surpassed one million registered infections, although authorities agree that the figure is probably much higher due to the low number of diagnostic tests that are carried out.

But the survivors have also been marked: In addition to losing friends and family, many of the recovered COVID-19 patients in the country say that the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico has shown itself to be a divided country, in which some people refuse to wear masks, while others are so scared that they are on the verge of paranoia at the slightest shortness of breath.

With a small number of diagnostic tests and a general fear of hospitals, many in Mexico turn to home remedies and to be cared for by their relatives. Such is the case in the low-income neighborhood of Ampliación Magdalena, in the east of the Mexican capital, where most of the people have informal jobs at the supply center.

This huge market was the scene of one of the first large-scale outbreaks in the metropolitan area of ​​Mexico City, with 21 million inhabitants, so that in the first months of the pandemic, cemeteries were overwhelmed by the number of corpses. .

The local funeral home “looked like a bakery, all of them formed, the floats all formed,” said community leader Daniel Alfredo López González. The owner of the funeral home told him that some people waited their turn to embalm, and others to cremate the bodies of their relatives.

The lack of tests – in Mexico only diagnostic tests are performed on people with severe symptoms, and only about 2.5 million tests have been carried out in a country with 130 million inhabitants -, the lack of hospitals in many areas and the fear By turning to those that do exist, you have created fertile ground for ignorance, suspicion, and fear.

López González himself fell ill. Even though he recovered, the fear was devastating.

“There is a tremendous psychosis. Why? Because at the end of the day, sometimes the disease itself may not be so complicated, but the psyche of the person is, ”said López González. “That is, knowing that you have a certain disease can kill you more than having the disease.”

The health worker Dulce María López González – Daniel Alfredo’s sister – took care of four of her family members who fell ill with COVID-19, using recommendations via telephone and the medications she received from a doctor who cared for her own relatives.

Her first encounter with the psychological effects of the pandemic were her own fears that her job as a health worker may have exposed her to the virus.

“I was gasping for air,” he remembers thinking. “It is also a psychological question.”

She managed to calm down thinking: “If I get upset, if I think that I am going to die, that I already have the disease, because it will also attack my heart because it accelerates it and I can cause myself to even have a heart attack ”.

Their second meeting revolved around the decision of their relatives to recover from the illness at home. He desperately had to find a way to obtain expensive and scarce medical equipment.

“I told them: ‘I can’t, I can’t alone,’” López González said.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when her husband, who did not fall ill during the first round of infections, suffered an apparent panic attack aboard a taxi, thinking that he had become infected and could not breathe.

“He was beginning to enter this psychosis that he already had that disease, and that it was likely that he could have had a heart attack,” he declared.

Likewise, they were still terrified of going to a government hospital.

“It was a cycle as well as horror really,” he declared. “We were afraid of going to a hospital and hearing everything, on social networks, that patients were leaving, that they escaped, that they were killed. So it was a huge psychosis ”.

But López González, whose job involves handing out free surgical masks to residents, has also seen the other side of the psychological storm: Those who don’t care.

“There comes the case of a person to whom I gave the mask myself and told him that he did not have to go outside without the mask,” he recalled. “She makes the comment to me that not her, that is not going to happen to her anymore. After 15 days we found out that the person died of COVID ”.

The undersecretary of Health and the main official in the fight against the pandemic, Hugo López-Gatell, was upset when asked about the fact that the country exceeded 100,000 deaths.

He criticized the media for being alarmist and focusing on the figure, in the same way that he has criticized those who imply that the government does not report real figures, those who question the low rate of diagnostic tests in the country or the Conflicting government recommendations on the use of masks.

“The epidemic is terrible in itself, you don’t have to add drama to it,” López-Gatell said, hinting that some media focus on the number of deaths to sell newspapers or unleash a “political confrontation.”