Mexico overtakes Spain as country with world's sixth deadliest coronavirus outbreak

People walk on a street in Mexico City, Mexico, on June 9, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (BLOOMBERG) - Mexico's Covid-19 deaths rose by 741 to reach 28,510, leading the country to overtake Spain and have the world's sixth deadliest outbreak, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday night (July 1).

Confirmed cases rose by 5,681 to 231,770. Deaths and cases in Mexico have increased steadily in recent weeks as Latin America has emerged as a hot spot for the pandemic. The country is also likely to soon overtake France, which has 29,864 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Mexico, like other Latin American countries has vulnerable populations living in tight quarters where work is essential to meet daily basic needs. That makes social distancing to slow the pandemic nearly impossible while President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been criticised by some health experts for downplaying the virus's risks.

Mr Lopez Obrador has focused largely on reopening the economy, rather than enforcing strict lockdowns. He continued to travel through the country amid record rises in cases. Mexico City began reopening businesses and restarting economic activity this week based on government data showing a decrease of hospital occupancy.

At his nightly press conferences, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell has repeatedly implored people to stay home, while Mr Lopez Obrador has said the worst is likely past. In a recent morning press conference, the president thanked the Mexican people for helping avoid an even more troubling outcome.

"Despite the terrible nature of this pandemic, we have avoided more suffering," Mr Lopez Obrador said.

The numbers from Mexico's Health Ministry don't reflect data from only the previous 24 hours, as it takes longer for it to gather information from hospitals on coronavirus patients.

Experts have questioned the government's tracking of the virus, as even the ministry has acknowledged actual cases are much higher.

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