- Title: Why the coronavirus is killing so many of Mexico's healthcare workers
- Date: 6th August 2020
- Summary: MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (FILE - MAY 4, 2020) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF CENTRO MEDICO HOSPITAL BANNER SAYING THE HOSPITAL HAS EXCEEDED ITS CAPACITY HEALTHCARE WORKERS CHATTING OUTSIDE HOSPITAL POLICEWOMAN GUARDING HOSPITAL DOCTORS TALKING TO RELATIVES OF PATIENT DOCTORS WALKING IN STREET NAUCALPAN, STATE OF MEXICO, MEXICO (FILE - MAY 15, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DOCTOR JOSE GARCIA RECOVERING FROM COVID-19 AT HOME / PUTS ANTIBACTERIAL GEL ON HANDS GARCIA WITH WIFE, WHO IS ALSO A DOCTOR ANA CRISTINA SANCHEZ AND THEIR THREE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER SANCHEZ CARRYING DAUGHTER DOCTOR JOSE GARCIA DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DOCTOR JOSE GARCIA, SAYING: "At the hospital, we didn't have a protocol as such. We received no indications from any hospital authority or from the government, by areas, as to what measures we would need to follow. We established some from our own initiative, each one of the doctors and nurses, and we started using face masks.'' FAMILY SITTING ON COUCH (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DOCTOR ANA CRISTINA SANCHEZ, SAYING: ''There is no equipment (personal protective equipment). I think the demands from all my colleagues are legitimate. We need to equip them depending on the area. We need training and protocols to know what to do in each case and we need specific isolation areas, even if we are not talking about COVID hospitals, because at the moment, we should all handle ourselves as is we were asymptomatic carriers.'' VARIOUS OF FAMILY LOOKING OUT THROUGH WINDOW 77 YEARS BANNER OUTSIDE THE MEXICAN SOCIAL SECURITY INSTITUTE (IMSS) HOSPITAL GENERAL VIEW OF HOSPITAL PATIENTS IN HOSPITAL EXTERIOR HOSPITAL VARIOUS OF ICU ENTRANCE GATE
- Embargoed: 20th August 2020 15:53
- Keywords: Doctor Jose Garcia Lopez-Gatell coronavirus Mexico health workers lack of PPE protests
- Location: MEXICO CITY & NAUCALPAN, STATE OF MEXICO, MEXICO
- City: MEXICO CITY & NAUCALPAN, STATE OF MEXICO, MEXICO
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Human-Led Feature,Human-Led Stories
- Reuters ID: LVA001CQ4430N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: When the coronavirus epidemic began to intensify in Mexico at the end of March, Doctor Jose Garcia said his bosses at a public trauma hospital in Mexico City denied his request for masks, gloves and disinfectant.
They argued such protective equipment was only necessary for those working directly with coronavirus patients, Garcia said. Unconvinced, he bought it himself.
The hospital's director disputes this, saying all staff received protective equipment. Either way, Garcia had already contracted the virus and infected his wife and one-year-old daughter.
Garcia is one of over 70,000 medical workers to catch the coronavirus in Mexico, where the pandemic death toll is now the third-highest worldwide, behind the United States and Brazil.
Government data indicates that healthcare workers' risk of dying is four times higher than in the United States, and eight times higher than in Brazil.
Staff have had to buy their own equipment, often in informal marketplaces and of substandard quality, Garcia said.
The government has said there were shortcomings in equipment provision early on but says it has worked hard to protect workers and flown in vital equipment from China and the United States. It also accuses past administrations of letting the health service deteriorate.
Mexico's deputy health minister and coronavirus czar, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said in July that many of the nurses and doctors who died of the virus had pre-existing medical conditions, and that some did not use protective gear in "optimal fashion."
In Mexico, 19% of confirmed infections are of medical staff, almost three times the global average, according to figures from the International Council of Nurses and the Mexican National Association of Doctors and Nurses.
The plight of health workers is complicating efforts to contain the outbreak, which has killed close to 50,000 people in Mexico, battered the economy and cost millions of jobs.
Garcia, 48, said in an interview that he believes he was one of about a dozen medical staff indirectly infected by a patient who arrived at the Lomas Verdes hospital with coronavirus symptoms and later died.
The hospital's director, Gilberto Meza, said that 213 Lomas Verdes staff had contracted the virus. Citing an epidemiological study he said the hospital had conducted, he said that all were infected outside the facility.
He said all staff had received goggles, face shields and masks. He declined to say when they were provided.
Garcia and his family survived and he is now back at work. But the two weeks they had coronavirus symptoms were, he said, "hell": headaches, fever, diarrhea and shortness of breath.
As of July 24, 72,980 Mexican medical staff had caught the coronavirus, and 978 died, government figures show.
Over a dozen nurses and doctors interviewed by Reuters said they got the virus in part because they did not receive timely information or protective equipment.
Many have protested about having to reuse disposable gear and launched petitions for better kit.
(Production: Carlos Carrillo, Geraldine Downer)
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