Quarter of Mexico's population have been exposed to COVID-19 - official

People walk at a popular shopping street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in downtown Mexico City, Mexico December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A quarter of Mexico’s population, or 31 million people, has been exposed to COVID-19, according to preliminary results of an official survey, with 70% never showing symptoms.

“The figures show a great speed of spread,” said Juan Rivera, general director of the National Institute of Public Health, at a regular news conference late on Tuesday.

The survey, which used blood tests to detect antibodies, involved 9,400 households and was carried out between August and November, Riviera added.

Only 20% had symptoms that pointed to a COVID-19 diagnosis while 10% had only some symptoms, according to the findings of the survey.

Mexico’s health ministry on Tuesday reported 11,228 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 801 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,267,202 cases and 115,099 deaths. nS0N2HB06G

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday reiterated calls for people to stay at home during the holidays.

Reporting by Abraham Gonzalez; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher