Mexico’s death toll from COVID-19 has surged to more than 321,000 after the government acknowledged underreporting its total by around 60%.
The previous figure had been undercounted due to the country’s limited capacity for coronavirus testing and a significant number of deaths at home because hospitals were overwhelmed.
The government said that the only way to develop a clear picture of the real impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was to review excess deaths and death certificates.
On Saturday, officials published the findings of such a report which found there were 294,287 deaths linked to the virus since the start of the pandemic through to 14 February.
Since 15 February there have been an additional 26,772 test-confirmed deaths in Mexico.
The higher toll would rival that of the 310,000 counted in Brazil, which currently has the world’s second-highest number of deaths after the United States with more than 548,000.
However, Mexico’s population of 126 million is far smaller than either of those nations.
The new report reveals how deadly the second wave in Mexico was, revealing a jump in around 75,000 deaths during just the first month-and-a-half of this year.
The overall number of excess deaths – the difference in the number of deaths in a pandemic year with a non-pandemic year – reached 417,000.
By reviewing death certificates, the authors of the report found that more than 70% of the excess deaths were COVID-19 related, often because it was listed on the certificates as a suspected or contributing cause of death.
However some experts believe the virus may have contributed to many more excess deaths because many people couldn’t receive treatment at overwhelmed hospitals.