WHO says Mexico in 'bad shape' on coronavirus, sees 'serious problem'

GENEVA, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The head of the World Health Organization said on Monday that Mexico is in “bad shape” regarding the coronavirus as infections and deaths surge, and urged the government to be serious about addressing the pandemic.

Mexico’s coronavirus death tally, the fourth highest in the world, stands above 105,500. Confirmed cases are in excess of 1.1 million, but public health experts say the true figure is likely significantly higher.

“The number of increase in cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing in Geneva. The number of weekly deaths had gone from 2,000 the week of Oct. 12 to around 4,000 by Nov. 23, he added. “This shows Mexico is in bad shape.”

At least seven of Mexico City’s 54 public hospitals treating COVID-19 patients are at full occupancy for coronavirus beds with respirators, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The OCHA said another 14 health centers risk being stretched, with COVID-19 bed occupancies exceeding 70%. It noted that Mexico’s health ministry reported 63% of all general hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the capital are occupied.

“When both indicators, deaths and cases, increase I think this is a very serious problem and we would like to ask Mexico to be very serious,” said Tedros.

Since Mexico began lifting its strictest lockdown restrictions in June, it has been reluctant to reimpose blanket measures because so many of the population living hand-to-mouth depend on being able to go out every day and do business.

However, some states have ratcheted up restrictions to contain the pandemic in the past few weeks. (Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva and Raul Cortes Fernandes in Mexico City; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)