(Adds comment from WHO officials)
MEXICO CITY, June 9 (Reuters) - New coronavirus cases in Mexico are expected to keep rising, a senior health official said on Tuesday, even as the government continues with a gradual reopening of the economy that was launched at the beginning of this month.
"We still haven't reached the maximum point," Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said at a regular news conference. "For several more weeks, we will keep announcing there are more cases today than yesterday."
The official's assessment was largely echoed by officials from the World Health Organization and its Pan American Health Organization during a webcast news conference later on Tuesday.
While Mexico has yet to reach peak infections, they said, officials should boost testing before any wide-scale economic reopening and stick to safety measures, including social distancing.
In recent weeks, Latin America has emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic with a rapid surge in cases, even as the tide of infection recedes in other parts of the world.
Mexican officials have gradually raised the projections of total fatalities and now forecast up to 35,000 deaths through October.
A study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington last week forecast up to 75,516 deaths by August.
The government previously predicted the pandemic would peak in early May, and under U.S. pressure, has begun reopening its car-making industry, which underpins billions of dollars of business through multi-national supply chains.
However, plans to further relax social-distancing measures were put on hold as infection rates continue to rise.
Lopez-Gatell, who has coordinated the nation's response, said disaster had been avoided even as Mexico last week overtook the United States for the first time in daily reported deaths.
On Monday, the country registered nearly 3,000 new coronavirus infections, reaching 120,102 total confirmed cases. Overall reported deaths surpassed 14,000. (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Bernadette Baum and Aurora Ellis)
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