Mexican President Lopez Obrador assessments optimistic for COVID-19

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador speaks to the nation on his second anniversary as President at the National Palace in Mexico City

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By Raul Cortes and Stefanie Eschenbacher

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday he tested positive for COVID-19 amid an intense second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has nearly saturated the health system of the country’s huge capital.

The 67-year-old president said in a tweet that his symptoms were mild and that he was receiving medical treatment.

“As always, I’m optimistic,” said Lopez Obrador, who refused to wear a face mask.

Lopez Obrador has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic. The strategy focuses on increasing hospital capacity over testing and contact tracing. The country has shied away from mandatory lockdowns and has instead opted for a tiered system of restrictions to limit the impact on the economy.

The Department of Health reported 10,872 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 530 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 1,763,219 infections and 149,614 deaths. This is the fourth highest death toll in the world.

Mexico City hospitals are near full due to the surge in cases. The actual number of infected people and deaths is likely to be significantly higher than the official figure, according to the Ministry of Health.

Lopez Obrador said on Twitter that his interior minister would hold his regular morning press conference in his absence.

“Fortunately, the president is stable at the moment, symptoms are mild,” said Jose Luis Alomia Zegarra, a Mexican health official, during a daily news conference shortly after Lopez Obrador announced his diagnosis. “A team of medical specialists takes care of the President’s health.”

Former President Felipe Calderon, a longtime opponent of Lopez Obrador, wished him all the best. “Sincerely, I wish the president a speedy recovery,” he said on Twitter.

Lopez Obrador kept a busy public schedule during the pandemic, saying he was healthy after suffering a major heart attack at the age of 60 in 2013.

He has been traveling to events across the country in the past few days, including one the previous Sunday in central San Luis Potosi state. His day starts early with a meeting of his security cabinet, followed by a press conference that begins at 7:00 a.m. on weekdays and often lasts two hours or more.

Lopez Obrador said he would hold another scheduled call to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday and keep an eye on public affairs while he was dealt with.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter that the heads of state and government would address “the future of bilateral relations and the delivery of Russian vaccines to Mexico”.

The government announced this month that it plans to purchase 12 million cans of Russia’s Sputnik V, with the first possibly arriving as soon as next week.

Mexico plans to deliver 7.4 million doses of Sputnik V by the end of March as the country tries to ensure the largest possible supply of vaccines as quickly as possible.

The Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 Vaccine is currently the only vaccine given in Mexico. The government has said some doses of the Pfizer vaccine could be delayed and private companies can buy the drugs outright as the country struggles to keep the rampant infections at bay.

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