MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he had lost some relatives to the novel coronavirus, which has so far claimed more lives in Mexico than in all but three other countries worldwide.
Lopez Obrador, who has at times has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic, was asked during a regular news conference about media reports that one of his cousins was hospitalized after contracting coronavirus.
“Yes. Yes, I do have relatives who are ill. Unfortunately, relatives have also lost their lives,” he said.
Lopez Obrador, who has upset critics with his reluctance to wear a face mask, did not say which of his relatives had died from COVID-19.
At the start of the pandemic, Lopez Obrador downplayed its severity, encouraging people to hug each other and to keep going out. He later changed tack, but critics fear the government is reopening the economy before it has the virus under control.
Mexico has reported more than 360,000 coronavirus infections, the seventh highest case count globally, and more than 41,000 deaths. It has the world’s fourth highest death toll, after the United States, Brazil and Britain.
Lopez Obrador has criticized news media for reporting Mexico’s rise up the ranks of the world’s most hard-hit countries, saying the death toll per capita is a more fair representation.
(Reporting by Dave Graham and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)