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Mexico tops 35,000 deaths, passes Italy to post 4th-highest death toll

Mexico president says virus is 'losing intensity' in country

Mexican soldiers mourn five boxed cremated remains, of Mexicans who died from COVID-19, during a welcoming ceremony at the tarmac of Benito Suarez International airport in Mexico City, Saturday, July 11, 2020. The ashes of 245 Mexican were repatriated to Mexico from New York in a military airplane. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Mexican soldiers mourn five boxed cremated remains, of Mexicans who died from COVID-19, during a welcoming ceremony at the tarmac of Benito Suarez International airport in Mexico City, Saturday, July 11, 2020. The ashes of 245 Mexican were repatriated to Mexico from New York in a military airplane. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MEXICO CITY – Mexican officials say the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths has passed 35,000, making it the country with the fourth-highest total.

A count by Johns Hopkins University has only the United States, Brazil and Britain with more confirmed deaths from the new coronavirus. Sunday’s rise to 35,006 confirmed deaths moved Mexico, a country with 130 million inhabitants, past Italy.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisted the development of the pandemic in Mexico “is positive, it is good” because of the country's 32 states only nine had increases in infections.

“The bottom line is that the pandemic is on the downside, that it is losing intensity,” Mexico’s president said.

Nevertheless, some days this past week have seen record daily numbers of new infections.

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Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 299,750 on Sunday.

Also over the weekend, the ashes of 245 Mexican migrants who died of COVID-19 in New York arrived back into their home nation.

A Mexican Air Force plane carrying the remains arrived at near midnight Saturday in what the Foreign Relations Department called an “unprecedented” effort.

The urns were taken from the plane and placed on a table adorned with white flowers for a brief ceremony.

“It’s the way Mexico expresses its gratitude for so much that our migrants have contributed from abroad, and of course in addition to giving consolation to their families, who can give them a final goodbye in their land,” said Roberto Velasco, the Foreign Relations Department’s director-general for North America.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, celebrated a Mass for the coronavirus victims on Saturday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, blessing the ashes.

The Mexican government says more than 1,500 Mexican migrants have died of COVID-19 in the United States, about half of them in New York.

Organizers cover the boxed cremated remains of Mexicans who died from COVID-19 before a service at  St. Patrick's Cathedral, Saturday, July 11, 2020, in New York. The ashes were blessed before they were repatriated to Mexico. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Organizers cover the boxed cremated remains of Mexicans who died from COVID-19 before a service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Saturday, July 11, 2020, in New York. The ashes were blessed before they were repatriated to Mexico. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)