Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday the United States had greater problems from the coronavirus than his country, a day after the U.S. State Department urged citizens not to travel south of the border, citing high contagion rates.
“We have many fewer problems with the pandemic than the problems that, unfortunately, they are facing,” Lopez Obrador said during a Friday morning press conference.
“Our situation is better,” he said.
The United States on Thursday lifted a global health advisory imposed in March that advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the stringent Level 4 advisory, usually reserved for countries at war, remained in place for Mexico, with U.S. ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau citing the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
Several other countries remain on Level 4.
Lopez Obrador also criticized media outlets for focusing on the country’s ranking as third place globally for overall COVID-19 deaths, rather than deaths per capita.
By the second measure, which allows a comparison of deaths accounting for a country’s population, Mexico is in 13th place globally, according to data analysis by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
In Mexico, 40 people per every 100,000 have died from COVID-19 – a lower number than the United States, which is at 49 deaths per 100,000 – according to Johns Hopkins.
It also has fewer per capita deaths than Latin American peers Chile, Peru, Brazil and several European nations.
However, more in Mexico have died than in Russia, Japan and Bangladesh, which have similar populations.
Total deaths in Mexico surpassed 50,000 on Thursday, behind only the United States, which has 160,000 deaths, and Brazil, which is approaching 100,000.
Similar to other countries, health officials in Mexico admit the number of fatalities caused by coronavirus is likely much higher than the official tally, because of errors and delays in classifying causes of death.
The virus is still spreading quickly; just over two weeks ago, the health ministry reported 40,000 deaths.
On Friday, Lopez Obrador said “the curve has flattened.”