Family members attend the burial service of a relative who died of complication related to COVID-19, at the Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City (Image: AP/Christian Palma)

On a warm spring day last year, I met visual journalist María Fernanda Ruíz outside my apartment building. Our faces covered in cloth masks, our backpacks laden with hand sanitiser, extra face shields and photography equipment, we bundled into a car and drove to Xochimilco, a borough of Mexico City some 30 kilometres south of the central part of the megalopolis where we both live.

It was October 30, the weekend of Day of the Dead, and we were off to tell a story for ABC News about the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico. In a municipal cemetery, we met the wife and children of a man who had died at the age of 45, his grave among many dug in May and June as the first wave of the virus swept the city.

At one of the embarkment docks for the famous Xochimilco canals, we met a boat driver with hopes that plan B or C or D would come through to feed his family while his per-boat-ride, cash-in-hand job had slowed since tourist numbers declined.