MEXICO CITY (AP) — The spokesman for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tested positive for coronavirus, he said on Sunday, the same day the country reported its first case of a potentially more contagious COVID-19 variant that is spreading in the United Kingdom.
Spokesman Jesús Ramírez Cuevas wrote on his Twitter account, “I am in good health and I will be working from home.” There was no word on whether the president had been tested.
Ramírez Cuevas is close to López Obrador, often handing him documents or going on trips with the president.
López Obrador is 67 and has high blood pressure, but almost never wears a mask.
On Sunday, López Obrador toured the Pacific coast seaport of Manzanillo and gave a speech, as usual without a mask on.
Also on Sunday, health authorities in the northern border state of Tamaulipas detected a case of the U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7. That strain has also been found in the United States, Canada, Italy, India and the United Arab Emirates.
Scientists in the U.K. have said the variant may be more contagious than previously identified strains.
The Tamaulipas state health department said the case was detected in a 56-year-old man who arrived on Dec. 29 at an airport in the border city of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, aboard a flight from Mexico City.
Later, federal health authorities said the man was a U.K. citizen who travelled from Amsterdam to Mexico City, and then caught a connecting flight to Matamoros, where he apparently had a work assignment. The man was tested only because his company required it; Mexico does very little testing of its own.
The man was asymptomatic when tested, but has since been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator.
Officials said 31 of those aboard the flight had shown no symptoms and two others tested negative, but that 12 more could not be located. This is the first confirmed case of the new variant in Mexico.
Mexico reported about 10,000 newly confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide Sunday and about 500 more deaths. Hospitals in Mexico City, the current epicenter of the pandemic in Mexico, were 92% full.
Only about 6,320 people received vaccines in Mexico Sunday, for a total of 107,250 so far.