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Top health official says Mexico's coronavirus death toll will not be known for 'a couple of years'

3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago Monday, September 28 2020 Sep 28, 2020 September 28, 2020 5:38 AM September 28, 2020 in News - Local
By: The Associated Press
A street vendor wears a mask over his mouth as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Mexico's assistant health secretary announced Friday that the country now has confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's top coronavirus official says definitive data on the country's death toll from COVID-19 won't be available for "a couple of years."   

The statement by Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell is likely to revive debate about Mexico's death toll, currently at 76,430, the fourth-highest in the world.   

"When will the final statistics on deaths from COVID-19 be ready? Certainly, a couple of years after the first year of the pandemic," López-Gatell said Sunday, adding that work would be left to the country's statistics institute.

Officials have acknowledged in the past that the figure is a significant undercount, because it includes only those who died after a positive test result, almost always at a hospital. Mexico does very little testing, and many people die without a test.  

But the Mexican government has avoided adjusting its death toll upward to account for people who died at home or weren't tested. 

Some parts of the country like Mexico City have begun conducting their own recalculations, finding "excess deaths" likely caused by coronavirus were at least double official figures.

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