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LATIN AMERICA | 25-01-2021 08:31

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he has Covid-19

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday that he was infected with the coronavirus, but said his symptoms were mild.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday that he was infected with the coronavirus, but said his symptoms were mild.

"I regret to inform you that I am infected with Covid-19. The symptoms are mild but I am already undergoing medical treatment," the 67-year-old said in a message on social media.

"As always, I am optimistic. We will come through this together," he said.

The leftwing populist is rarely seen wearing a mask in public, including at his daily press conferences, and has kept up most of his activities during the pandemic.

López Obrador has continued his travels to different parts of the country and on Friday visited the northern state of San Luis Potosí.

He was criticised for being slow to impose a lockdown at the start of the pandemic and for continuing to hold rallies and greet supporters with handshakes and hugs.

López Obrador suffered a heart attack in 2013 and underwent angioplasty. He also suffers from hypertension – a risk factor for Covid-19.

He joins other world leaders, including former US president Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who have caught the virus.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he wished his Mexican counterpart a "full and speedy recovery."

"We wish him a speedy recovery. I know that his people need him and that Latin America accompanies him in this difficult time we are going through," Argentine President Alberto Fernández said on Twitter.

Former Mexican presidents Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) also took to Twitter to wish López Obrador a successful recovery.

López Obrador said he would work from the presidential palace this week and delegated Interior Minister Olga Sánchez to represent him at his daily press conference.

He also said he would take part in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday about the possibility of Mexico acquiring the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.

Maximum alert

Mexico has officially registered more than 1.75 million coronavirus cases and nearly 150,000 deaths – the world's fourth-highest toll after the United States, Brazil and India.

Mexico City has been in a state of maximum alert since mid-December, with more than 90 percent of hospital beds full due to soaring infections. Non-essential activities have been suspended in the capital.

López Obrador came to power on December 1, 2018, promising to "transform" the country after sweeping aside the two political parties that had ruled for decades.

The former Mexico City mayor and self-styled anti-corruption crusader has faced calls to resign over his handling of the pandemic but still enjoys solid approval ratings.

The Latin American nation began a mass immunization program on December 24 using the coronavirus vaccine developed by US drugs giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

It has also authorised the shot developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

The first vaccinations were given to frontline health workers, and López Obrador said that he would wait until March, when people over the age of 65 are scheduled to be immunised, to get the shot himself.

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by Sofia Miselem, AFP

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