Mexico: shadowy lab tested 44 Argentines for COVID in Cancun

March 17, 2021 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Not only did 44 Argentine students apparently catch COVID-19 during a trip to the Mexican resort of Cancún, Mexican authorities said Tuesday the Cancún lab that tested the students was not registered.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said an investigation of the case was under way, and authorities had visited the hotels where the students stayed.

Argentine officials said earlier that all 149 passengers on the students’ flight supposedly tested negative in Mexico in early March, but 44 were in fact positive.

López-Gatell said “this private lab is not accredited to carry out this type of test,” and had not complied with requirements to notify state authorities of test results. Mexico has had frequent problems with poorly regulated private health care services.


Private labs, clinics and hospitals have sprung up in Mexico because government facilities are often substandard, with not enough funding, space, medications or staff.

Over the weekend, Argentina’s government said controls were being stepped up on mandatory quarantines and closer scrutiny of tests required of travelers.

COVID-19 may not show up in tests until several days after a person has been infected.

Mexico has suffered more than 195,000 COVID-19 deaths, but the country does so little testing that government excess-death figures suggest the real toll is well above 235,000.