Mexican president tests positive for the coronavirus

Mexican president tests positive for the coronavirus
  • Clock-gray 09:16
  • calendar-gray 25 January 2021

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday night that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was experiencing "light" symptoms, APA reports citing Washington Post.

He said he would step away from his daily news conferences while being treated for the illness.

López Obrador has frequently minimized the severity of the pandemic and has rarely worn a mask, even as covid-19 has killed nearly 150,000 people in Mexico — the fourth-highest total in the world, and the 19th-highest as a percentage of the population, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

After Mexico’s 70-day shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic, the president resumed his frequent travel through the country. He has been criticized for appearing in selfies with his supporters.

“I am sorry to inform you that I am infected with COVID-19,” López Obrador said in a tweet. “The symptoms are light, but I am getting medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will carry on.”

He added that he would remain in his living quarters at the National Palace and would have a telephone conversation as scheduled on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss shipments to Mexico of the Sputnik V vaccine.

At 67, and with hypertension, López Obrador could be at risk of developing complications from the virus. He had a heart attack in 2013. Mexico has administered about 600,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but the president has said he would wait for his shot until after front-line medical personnel and older citizens had received theirs.

Mexican authorities on Sunday reported 10,872 more confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 530 deaths. In total, the government has tallied more than 1.7 million cases. But the real total is thought to be higher: A recent government study based on antibody tests estimated that one-quarter of the population of about 126 million people has been infected.

The president has been regularly tested for the virus and insists that he keeps strict social-distancing rules in his office.

López Obrador, a folksy icon of the left, took office in December 2018. He has remained popular, with approval ratings of about 60 percent, despite the mounting death toll from covid-19 and a severe economic crisis linked to the pandemic.

But the president’s decisions to rarely wear a mask in public, and his statements playing down the pandemic, have frustrated many in Mexico.

“In a country where government and president are often the same thing, and where the president is a continuous presence both in social and traditional media, his minimizing of the pandemic and his refusal to wear a mask have definitely encouraged people to downplay the dangers of this deadly virus,” said Esteban Illades, a prominent Mexican journalist.

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