Mexico's President Has COVID for Second Time, but Predicts Virus 'On Its Way Out'

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19 for a second time, but asserted that "this virus is on its way out" even amid a steep surge in cases.

While appearing via video feed at his morning press briefing he usually holds at Mexico City's National Palace, the president indicated that he had contracted the Omicron variant, the Associated Press reported. He said that "fortunately, this variant does not have the degree of danger that Delta did, and I am experiencing that."

López Obrador, who is fully vaccinated and received a booster shot, said that his symptoms were mild and felt "like a cold." He had no fever and his oxygenation was good, he said.

López Obrador first contracted the virus in January 2021 but was able to return to his daily news briefings in February after a two-week absence.

Despite his second COVID infection and Mexico's 186 percent spike in confirmed cases last week, López Obrador predicted that "things will get back to normal very soon." Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said that the president could resume his in-person briefings as soon as next week.

Mexican President Contracts COVID Again
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19 for a second time, but asserted that “this virus is on its way out.” Obrador speaks as part of the daily briefing at Palacio Nacional on December 16, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico. Hector Vivas/Getty Images

When López Obrador was first infected, he revealed he received experimental treatments, which he described only as an "antiviral" medication and an anti-inflammatory drug.

This time around, the president said he was taking only paracetamol, a mild pain medication.

On Monday, the president told Mexicans to just assume they had COVID-19 if they had symptoms.

López Obrador claimed the Omicron variant is "a little COVID," noting hospitalizations and deaths had not increased at the same rate as new cases. However, experts say those are both lagging indicators that may not show up for weeks after infections spike. In the U.S., where the Omicron wave hit before it did in Mexico, COVID-19 deaths have again started to rise.

Reading advice posted on Twitter, the president said Mexicans with symptoms should just stay at home, take paracetamol and isolate rather than going out and trying to find tests.

Since Christmas, private pharmacies and the few available testing centers have been overwhelmed by long lines. The Twitter advice drew on guidelines from Mexico City and other health authorities.

López Obrador's administration has long refused to implement mass testing, calling it a waste of money. He called on companies not to require COVID tests for employees.

Mexico has also been one of the few countries not to impose lockdowns, flight bans or mandatory face mask requirements.

Mexico passed 300,000 test-confirmed coronavirus deaths last week, but so little testing is done in the country of 126 million that a government review of death certificates puts the real toll at almost 460,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mexico COVID
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mexico jumped by 186 percent last week. A health worker swabs a man for COVID-19 on the parking lot of the Via Vallejo shopping center in Mexico City, on January 5, 2022. Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images