MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s President announced on Monday that he has contracted Covid-19 for a second time as coronavirus infections rise in Mexico and virus tests run short.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote that he tested positive after sounding hoarse at a morning press conference. He fell ill with Covid and recovered from it for the first time in early 2021.
“Even if the symptoms are mild, I will remain isolated and only work from the office and hold online meetings for the time being,” the president wrote on his social media accounts. “In the meantime, Interior Minister Adán Augusto López Hernández takes over for me at press conferences and other events.”
Two of the president’s cabinet secretaries, heads of the environmental and economic departments, announced that they had tested positive in the past few days.
Earlier in the day, the president urged Mexicans to simply assume they have Covid if they had symptoms. The number of confirmed cases rose 186 percent last week.
López Obrador claimed the Omicron variant was “a bit of COVID” and noted that hospital stays and deaths had not increased at the same rate. However, experts say these are both delayed indicators that may not show up weeks after the infections rise.
The president read the advice posted on Twitter and said Mexicans with symptoms should just stay home, take acetaminophen, and isolate instead of going out and trying to find tests.
Since Christmas private pharmacies and the few available test centers have been overwhelmed by long lines. The Twitter council drew on guidelines from Mexico City and other health authorities.
The government of López Obrador has long refused to do mass testing, calling it a waste of money. He urged companies not to mandate Covid tests for employees.
Mexico passed 300,000 test-confirmed coronavirus deaths last week, but so little testing is done in the country of 126 million that a government review of death certificates puts the actual number at nearly 460,000.
The surge in virus was largely responsible for the cancellation of 260 flights between Jan 6 and Jan 10, the president said as airline employees became infected and had to isolate themselves, causing staff shortages.
José Merino, head of Mexico City’s Digital Innovation Agency, said the capital had the same number of Covid cases as it did in January 2020, but only 6 percent as many people had been hospitalized. 70 percent of hospital patients are not vaccinated, he wrote on his Twitter account.