Mexico's coronavirus czar in hospital with COVID-19, as death toll nears 186,000
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FILE PHOTO: Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez, Mexico's Undersecretary of Health Prevention and Promotion, holds a news conference on information about the new coronavirus, in Mexico City, Mexico February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's coronavirus czar has been hospitalized over the past five days for COVID-19 treatment but is recovering well, a health official said on Sunday, as the country marks the one-year anniversary of its first confirmed infection.
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the face of Mexico's response to the pandemic, has drawn criticism for downplaying the need for masks and for spearheading a strategy of limited testing.
Mexico has registered 185,715 fatalities from the coronavirus, giving it the world's fourth-highest death toll from the pandemic, according to a Reuters tally.
Lopez-Gatell was admitted for "early hospitalization" last Wednesday after his medical team determined he required supplemental oxygen, said Ruy Lopez, head of the National Center of Preventative Programs and Disease Control (Cenaprece).
"He has progressed well and we hope he can be released from the hospital unit tomorrow," Lopez told a news conference.
The epidemiologist announced testing positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 20, after experiencing light symptoms.
A number of high-level officials in Mexico have contracted the virus, including President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has shunned face masks.
Mexico registered another 458 coronavirus fatalities and 2,810 more confirmed infections on Sunday, for a total of 2,086,938 cases. The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Sharay Angulo; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Diane Craft and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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