MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s president announced Monday that he has come down with COVID-19 for the second time, as coronavirus infections soar in Mexico and virus tests become scarce.
President Andres Manuel López Obrador wrote that he tested positive after being raucous at his morning news briefing. He contracted COVID-19 and recovered from it for the first time in early 2021.
“Even if symptoms are mild, I will isolate and only work from office and hold online meetings until further notice,” the president wrote in his social media accounts. “Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Aidan Augusto López Hernández will take over for me at press conferences and other events.”
Two of the president’s cabinet secretaries, the heads of the environment and economy departments, announced they had tested positive in recent days.
Earlier in the day, the president told Mexicans to assume they have COVID-19 if they have symptoms. The number of confirmed cases increased by 186% last week. ,
López Obrador claimed the Omicron variant is “little COVID”, noting that hospitalizations and deaths have not increased at the same rate. However, experts say they are both backward indicators that may not show up for weeks after the infection has progressed.
Reading advice posted on Twitter, the president said Mexicans with symptoms should stay home, take paracetamol and isolate, not go out and try to find tests.
Since Christmas, private pharmacies and few available testing centers have been overwhelmed with long lines. Twitter’s advice is based on guidelines from Mexico City and other health officials.
López Obrador’s administration has long refused to implement mass testing, calling it a waste of money. He called on companies not to require COVID testing for employees.
Mexico passed 300,000 test-confirmed coronavirus deaths last week, but so little is tested in the country of 126 million that a government review of death certificates puts the actual toll at around 460,000.
The virus spike was largely responsible for the cancellation of 260 flights between January 6 and January 10, the president said, as airline workers became infected and had to isolate, leading to staff shortages.
Jose Merino, head of Mexico City’s Digital Innovation Agency, said the capital had the same number of Covid cases as the January 2020 peak, but only 6% of people were hospitalized. He wrote in his Twitter account that 70% of the people admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated.