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Coronavirus: Mexico’s death toll becomes world’s third highest

Cemetery workers dig new graves at the Xico cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mexico reported 688 fatalities on Friday

Mexico has become the country with the third highest death toll with coronavirus, with only the US and Brazil recording greater numbers.

It has now suffered at least 46,688 deaths during the pandemic, with a total of 424,637 infections.

Previously the United Kingdom had the third highest toll, and registered 46,204 deaths as of Friday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the effects of the pandemic will be felt “for decades to come”.

In Mexico, local authorities have previously said they believe the real number of infections is likely to be significantly higher than those reported.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is eager to restart the country’s flagging economy. His government announced a phased plan to lift restrictions in May.

In Mexico City, the capital, hundreds of thousands of factory workers returned to their jobs in mid-June. Some non-essential businesses were then allowed to reopen at the start of July in the city, the epicentre of the country’s epidemic.

But critics say Mr Obrador was slow to impose lockdown measures and has lifted them too quickly. Most of the Mexican economy stopped on 23 March but some industries that were declared key to the functioning of the nation and were exempt from the restrictions.

On Friday ten state governors chastised the government’s handling of the outbreak and called for the resignation of Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell – an epidemiologist and Mexico’s coronavirus tsar.

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Media captionHow Mexican cartels are taking advantage of Covid-19

More than 17.5 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, along with nearly 679,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The US has recorded at least 153,415 deaths and Brazil 92,475.

Some countries have tried to emerge from lockdown but in many, cases are rising again, reports the BBC’s Geneva correspondent, Imogen Foulkes.

Some, like Spain and the UK, are partially reintroducing restrictions or delaying plans for their easing.

More measures were expected to be relaxed in England this weekend but Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that this would be delayed for at least two weeks.

With cases continuing to rise around the world, WHO head Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus called the pandemic a “once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come”.

“Although vaccine development is happening at record speed, we must learn to live with this virus, and we must fight it with the tools we have,” he said on Friday.

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