| 12.7°C Belfast

Mexico City virus deaths could be more than triple official toll

Activist group Mexicans Against Corruption says death records suggest there have been more than 3,200 unconfirmed coronavirus-related deaths.

Close

Workers in full protection gear against the spread of the new coronavirus bury a coffin in an area of the San Rafael municipal cemetery (Christian Chavez/AP)

Workers in full protection gear against the spread of the new coronavirus bury a coffin in an area of the San Rafael municipal cemetery (Christian Chavez/AP)

Workers in full protection gear against the spread of the new coronavirus bury a coffin in an area of the San Rafael municipal cemetery (Christian Chavez/AP)

A registry of death certificates in Mexico City suggests the actual Covid-19 death toll in the city could be more than three times the recorded number.

According to the registry, there were 4,577 cases where doctors mentioned coronavirus or Covid-19 as a possible or probable cause of death.

However the federal government acknowledges only 1,332 confirmed deaths in Mexico City since the pandemic began.

The additional 3,245 deaths in Mexico City, if they are confirmed or added to official counts, would push the national death toll from the 5,666 reported by federal officials on Monday to 8,911.

The 334 new deaths reported nationwide on Tuesday was the second-highest single-day death toll so far, and the national increase in new cases — 2,713 — was the highest one-day rise to date.

The number of deaths among medical personnel increased by one-third in the last week, reaching 149, more than half of them doctors.

Medical personnel constitute 11,394 infections, one-fifth of all cases nationwide.

Close

Global coronavirus cases and deaths (PA Graphics)

Global coronavirus cases and deaths (PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

Global coronavirus cases and deaths (PA Graphics)

But Mexico City, with 9 million residents, has been the hardest hit area of the country, and where official death counts have been subject to the greatest questioning.

The anti-corruption group Mexicans Against Corruption said in a report on Monday that it got access to a database of death certificates issued in Mexico City between March 18 and May 12.

It showed that in explanatory notes attached to 4,577 death certificates, doctors included the words “SARS,” “COV2,” “COV,” “Covid 19,” or “new coronavirus”.

The virus’ technical name is SARS-CoV-2. The notes the group counted included terms like “suspected,” “probable”, or “possible” role of the virus in the deaths.

In 3,209 of the certificates, it was listed as a suspected contributing factor along with other causes of death, like pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure.

Only 323 certificates list confirmed coronavirus as a cause of death; 1,045 other death certificates listed Covid-19 but did not specify if it was suspected or confirmed.

The group did not say how it accessed the database, which was kept by local courts. But it noted that official counts showed only 1,060 coronavirus deaths during that March 18-May 12 period.

What we are saying now is that in addition to those with a positive Covid test, are there more? Yes, there are moreClaudia Sheinbaum

Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has acknowledged there are more deaths than have officially been reported, and has said a special team of epidemiologists will review the death figures.

“What we are saying now is that in addition to those with a positive Covid test, are there more? Yes, there are more,” Ms Sheinbaum said on Tuesday.

“When is that going to be made public? According to Mexican standards this will definitely have to happen and there will be total transparency, but we have to comply with the standards concerning the review of the medical certificates.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has reacted angrily to new reports in the past that claimed Mexico was undercounting its deaths on the federal level, and the anti-corruption group’s report was unlikely to please him.

He has criticised the group in the past for allegedly opposing his policies and representing business interests and has mockingly called it “Mexicans For Corruption”.

Ms Sheinbaum repeated that mocking term on Tuesday and claimed there were efforts to create a split between her administration and the federal government.

PA