Grisly photos emerge from country battling surge in virus deaths

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Harrowing images from Mexico reveal the despairing conditions families are enduring as they farewell those who have died from the coronavirus outbreak.

Mexico’s coronavirus statistics continue to soar, recording a total of 36,327 cases and 3,573 deaths by Tuesday (local time).

Yet those numbers, a product of the country’s highest growth rate of cases yet, are feared to be a vast underestimate due to the low levels of testing.

One disturbing photo from Mexico City, the worst hit area in the country, shows workers moving a coffin into one of many newly dug graves at a graveyard in San Lorenzo Texonco.

Two family members film the makeshift funeral in Mexico City. Source: Getty

Due to social distancing restrictions, only two family members, both wearing plastic face coverings, were allowed to watch on, filming the coffin as it is dragged into a grave on their phones for family to watch.

Despite its sharp increase in cases over the past two weeks, Mexico's government said it will on Wednesday set out plans to reboot the economy after weeks of disruption.

"Tomorrow we will lay out the plan to return to the new normal," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters on Tuesday.

"It's not going to be a return to normal because there have been changes. Reality has changed.”

Workers at the San Lorenzo Tezonco pantheon wear safety suits to bury a COVID-19 victim. Source: Getty

Mexicans ‘more vulnerable’ to virus

Such a move has prompted concern from medical experts due to the population’s vulnerability to the virus.

Mexicans are more vulnerable due to "the epidemic of chronic disease induced by poor nutrition and the excessive supply of unhealthy industrialised food," said Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the deputy health minister in charge of the country's coronavirus response.

To date, seven in 10 deaths attributed to the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus have been linked to patients diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension or obesity, according to government data.

More than 10 per cent of Mexicans over the age of 20, or more than 8 million people, are diabetic, according to 2018 government data.

Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Mexico. Source: Worldometers

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is more prevalent with around 18 per cent of the over-20-year-old population affected, or some 15 million Mexicans.

Meanwhile, the country boasts one of the world's highest incidence of obesity.

"You see the combined effect of these three elements in the death toll statistics," said Josafat Camacho, a medical doctor and president of the Mexican Diabetes Federation.

President desperate to save economy

Lopez Obrador signalled last week that manufacturing industries like car making, as well as mining and construction, would likely be among the first to restart operations.

Mexico sends some 80 per cent of its exports to the US marketplace and became the United States' biggest trade partner last year, with bilateral commerce worth well over $600 billion.

Service sector businesses like tourism would follow later, he said.

Mexico's government has been studying the experience of other countries that have been emerging from strict lockdowns and believes that highly mechanised factories offer better conditions to control the risk of contagion, officials say.

Mexican auto output fell by nearly 99 per cent in April, and the government is under pressure from the United States to synchronise its restart with American companies that rely on supply chains from south of the border.

Still, Mexico's government has stepped up efforts to coordinate the re-opening with the United States in order to ensure the economy benefits from a US recovery, a Mexican official said.

Restrictions could start to be eased in parts of the country as soon as May 18, while harder-hit areas may have to wait until the start of next month, the government says.

With Reuters

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