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Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador refused Sunday to compare coronavirus death tolls with European states after the Latin American nation became the fifth hardest-hit country by the pandemic.

Mexico has recorded 30,639 deaths out of 256,848 infections, according to the health ministry.

On Saturday it surpassed France as the country with the fifth-highest number of fatalities after moving ahead of Spain on Wednesday.

“The population of Spain and France is smaller than that of Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said in a video message posted on YouTube.

“For every one who has died in our country, three have died in Spain. We cannot compare this,” he said.

The leftist leader criticized news outlets for highlighting the comparison.

In the Americas, the current epicenter of the pandemic, Mexico, with its 127 million residents, is the third-most affected country after the US and Brazil.

Spain has a population of 47 million, and France 67 million.

At the end of May, Hugo Lopez Gatell, the deputy health minister in charge of the fight against the pandemic, told AFP that if containment measures were not taken, the number of deaths could rise to about 30,000.

Mexico City, the capital, is the urban center worst hit by the disease — but that has not prevented municipal authorities from starting a partial economic reopening since the beginning of July.

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© Agence France-Presse

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