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Pandemic pushes millions more Mexicans into poverty

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Millions more Mexicans have fallen into poverty because of the coronavirus pandemic, with people living in one of the country's top tourist destinations hit particularly hard, official data showed Thursday.

The number of people living in poverty rose by 3.8 million between 2018 and 2020, to 55.7 million -- 43.9 percent of the population, according to the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy.

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The number living in extreme poverty increased by 2.1 million, to 10.8 million, equivalent to 8.5 percent of the population, the council reported.

The sharpest increase was seen in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, home to a string of Caribbean beach resorts.

The percentage of the population living in poverty there rose from 30.2 percent in 2018 to 47.5 percent in 2020 as many tourists stayed away, the figures showed.

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"The health emergency due to Covid-19 has deepened the challenges for social development policy in all areas, mainly in the income, health, education, and nutrition for the Mexican population," the council said.

Mexico's economy shrank 8.5 percent in 2020 in the worst slump since the Great Depression some nine decades ago, although it has since begun to recover.

The country of 126 million has an official coronavirus death toll of more than 242,000 -- the fourth-highest in the world -- and is now facing a third wave of infections.

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