Mexican Government is Hiding Huge Coronavirus Toll

Credit: Jezael Melgoza

The Mexican government is not reporting hundreds, possibly thousands, of deaths from the coronavirus in Mexico City, dismissing anxious officials who have tallied more than three times as many fatalities in the capital than the government publicly acknowledges, according to officials and confidential data reviewed by Azam Ahmed of The New York Times.

The tensions have come to a head in recent weeks, with Mexico City repeatedly alerting the government to the deaths, hoping it will come clean to the public about the true toll of the virus in the nation’s biggest city and, by extension, the country at large.

But that has not happened.

Doctors in overwhelmed hospitals in Mexico City say the reality of the epidemic is being hidden from the country. In some hospitals, patients lie on the floor, splayed on mattresses. Older people are propped up on metal chairs because there are not enough beds, while patients are turned away to search for space in less-prepared hospitals. Many die while searching, several doctors said.

“It’s like we doctors are living in two different worlds,” said Dr. Giovanna Avila, who works at Hospital de Especialidades Belisario Domínguez. “One is inside of the hospital with patients dying all the time. And the other is when we walk out onto the streets and see people walking around, clueless of what is going on and how bad the situation really is.

Mexico City officials have tabulated more than 2,500 deaths from the virus and serious respiratory illnesses that doctors think are related to Covid-19, the data reviewed by The Times shows. Yet the federal government is reporting about 700 deaths in the area, which includes Mexico City and the municipalities on its outskirts.

The government says Mexico has been faring better than many of the world’s largest countries, and on Monday its Covid-19 czar estimated that the final death toll would be around 6,000 people.