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Mexico reports another single-day record for coronavirus deaths

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico on Friday registered a record for coronavirus deaths on a single day, posting 479 more deaths along with 2,960 new infections, according to data from the health ministry.

Authorities have now reported 62,527 total cases of the coronavirus and 6,989 deaths since detecting the first cases in Mexico in late February.

The previous peak in fatalities was May 20, when authorities reported 424 deaths.

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Mexican families protest at hospital hit by coronavirus

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Families in a poor satellite city of Mexico’s capital with one of the country’s highest tallies of the coronavirus have staged protests to demand news of sick relatives and the return of the bodies of the dead after videos surfaced showing cadavers at a hospital.

One video of the Las Americas general hospital in Ecatepec that was posted to social media showed several bagged bodies on stretchers, some in a small room and others outside lined against a courtyard wall.

“The only thing I demand is that they give me the full body of my son,” Maria Dolores Carrillo told television program Imagen on Friday evening after her son died at the hospital.

Another video from Friday showed upset family members who had apparently forced their way into the hospital. They shouted in a crowded hallway in a confrontation with police, demanding news of their relatives.

Ecatepec, a working class city of more than 1.7 million inhabitants outside Mexico City, has registered 407 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 28 deaths, according to data from Mexico’s health ministry. It is among the Mexican municipalities worst affected by the coronavirus.

State of Mexico authorities said in a statement that the Las Americas hospital, which is run by the state health ministry, would try to hasten the delivery of bodies to families.

“Coordination with funeral homes in the area has been strengthened with the aim to speed up the delivery of bodies and avoid the saturation in the Pathology Area of the Las Americas hospital,” the State of Mexico government said.

Officials also they would work to improve communication with families, but that hospital visits were prohibited to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Several dozen law enforcement officers were sent to block the hospital entrance on Friday evening and many remained the following day, television images show.

Some family members on Saturday blocked a highway outside the hospital, demanding the release of a relative’s body, television program Milenio reported.

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Mexico could force businesses to close if they violate coronavirus rules

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico could force the closure of companies in non-essential sectors if they refuse to suspend operations during a state of emergency to curb spread of the coronavirus, a top health official said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes after a group representing U.S. manufacturers told President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that an economic shutdown over the virus could weaken North America’s response to the pandemic.

Mexico reported 448 new infections and 43 deaths, taking its tally to 5,847 cases and 449 deaths on Wednesday, although Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said last week as many as 26,500 people could be infected.

From April 3 until Tuesday, 15% of companies with non-essential activities had refused to stop work, Lopez-Gatell said on Wednesday, despite an emergency having been declared from March 30.

“All companies that refuse to suspend work will have an inspection certificate drawn up; the health authority will carry out the closure and the public ministry will investigate them,” Lopez-Gatell said on his Twitter account.

The firms would be investigated over the possible crime of damage to health that could cost lives, he added.

The companies that refused to comply are located in 10 states and Mexico City, the capital, he said, adding that they operate in the automotive, lumber, textile, aerospace, tobacco and construction industries, among others.

The National Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin) projects job losses of one million until mid-May if the suspension continues and no economic recovery program is adopted.

U.S. business lobbies have been pressuring Lopez Obrador to label certain industries “essential” so that health emergency measures to rein in the virus in Mexico do not halt key operations on both sides of the border.

Health officials also said on Wednesday that a two-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, who suffered from congenital heart disease has died of the virus, Mexico’s first death of someone younger than 25.

National oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said 83 of its workers had been infected with the virus.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open in an external browser.)

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Mexico reports 296 new coronavirus cases, stresses need for medical personnel

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico posted its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases on Monday as the deputy health minister said the country needed to recruit more medical personnel to confront a worsening outbreak.

Mexico registered 296 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total to 2,439 cases and 125 deaths, health officials told a news conference.

Predicting that cases in the country would continue to rise sharply, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said Mexico had among the lowest number of medical personnel relative to population among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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“That creates a challenge for us, and we need to recruit and train health personnel,” he said.

Lopez-Gatell said the country’s predicament would become more dire after April 30, when the “epidemic curve” would begin rising.

“Unavoidably, we will have more and more and more and more cases,” he said. “This is the moment to stay in our homes and reduce transmission because the situation will be even more intense.”

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U.S., Mexico agree on importance of trade despite border restrictions

WASHINGTON, MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, agreed on Saturday on the importance of preserving bilateral trade and critical services, despite U.S.-Mexico border restrictions to fight the coronavirus, a White House spokesman said.

“The two leaders discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the close United States-Mexico cooperation on efforts to combat the virus,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere after the two leaders spoke by telephone.

“President Trump and President Lopez Obrador agreed on the importance of preserving trade and critical services, regardless of travel restrictions,” Deere said, referring to an agreement to limit movement across the United States-Mexico border to essential travel only.

Lopez Obrador took to Twitter to thank Trump for not closing the shared border and proposed speeding up implementation of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement in order to boost economic recovery in the countries.

Trump said on Friday the United States would swiftly return any migrants who attempt to enter the country illegally, from Mexico or Canada, while closing both U.S. borders to “non-essential” travel to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Trump also said the United States and Mexico would work to keep commerce moving as much as possible across the border to try to limit disruptions to business and commerce.

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