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Mexico posts new daily highs for pandemic cases and deaths

January 22, 2021 GMT
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City worker Carlos Ruiz gives instruction to a COVID-19 patient after delivering a tank of oxygen to her home in the Iztapalapa borough of Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. The city offers free oxygen refills for COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
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City worker Carlos Ruiz gives instruction to a COVID-19 patient after delivering a tank of oxygen to her home in the Iztapalapa borough of Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. The city offers free oxygen refills for COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico posted new one-day highs for the pandemic Thursday, with 22,339 newly confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,803 deaths from COVID-19 recorded for the previous 24 hours.

The recent surge in cases has swamped hospitals. Mexico City is the country’s epicenter of the pandemic, and its hospitals are at 89% capacity, while nationwide 61% of hospital beds are filled.

The difficulty in finding space in hospitals has led many families to try to treat their relatives at home, which has created spot shortages of oxygen and tanks. That has been accompanied by a jump in prices as well as an uptick in thefts targeting oxygen tanks.

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The situation has also sparked home remedies, including home-made oxygen concentrators that officials warned are dangerous.

One video circulating on Facebook shows a Mexican couple connecting a fish-tank air pump to a hose in an effort to boost the man’s oxygen levels.

The head of civil defense for the city of Puebla, Gustavo Ariza, issued a public warning against such improvised devices, noting they do not increase oxygen concentration and simply re-circulate air.

“This is trickery. Please, people, don’t do this,” Ariza said.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell joined in the warnings. “We are concerned that people might waste time in te hope that this would work, and over the course of hours or days, very few days, the person’s condition worsens,” hel said.

López-Gatell said the Mexican government is going to pass rules that would give priority to medicinal oxygen production over industrial uses to free up supplies. The government is also looking to buy oxygen tanks abroad.