Mexico surpassed the United Kingdom as the country with the third-highest coronavirus death toll.
The record places Mexico behind Brazil, Latin America’s largest and most populous nation, and the United States. More than 91,000 people have died in Brazil, and the U.S. death toll has topped 152,000.
Mexico recorded 688 fatalities on Friday to bring its death toll to 46,688, with 424,637 confirmed cases.
The U.K. has recorded 46,204 deaths and 304,793 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, although the island nation appears to have put the brakes on the virus’ spread.
In Mexico, the pandemic is likely far more extensive than official figures reflect.
Elsewhere in Latin America, Colombia plans lockdowns through the end of August. The Andean country passed the 10,000 death benchmark on Friday, tallying 10,105 fatalities, and is expected to reach 300,000 total cases over the weekend.
Mexico has been trying to restart the economy since late May.
“We’re opening when we’re not yet ready to open,” Rosa Maria del Angel, head of Infectomics and Molecular Pathogenesis at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute, told the Reuters news agency.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who refuses to wear a mask in public, said Friday that Mexico plans to go ahead with Independence Day celebrations in the capital’s massive Zocalo.
The Sept. 16 ceremony that celebrates a historic call to revolt known as “El Grito” would be “socially distanced,” Lopez Obrador told his daily morning press conference.
“Faced with adversity, with epidemics, with floods, earthquakes, bad governments, we always go out” to celebrate, he said. “Now we’re going to continue going out.”
The president maintained the spread of the virus is slowing.
“There are signs coronavirus infections are decreasing and fortunately, even though there have been deaths and it’s something that’s very painful, no one in Mexico has been left without medical attention,” Lopez Obrador said. “Hospitals haven’t been saturated because we’re alert. We’re addressing the problem in a timely and responsible way.”
Sources: AP, Reuters