At least 97 workers at four hospitals operated by the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) have been infected with Covid-19 and three others have died.
Data from the Coahuila Health Ministry shows that 32 workers at the IMSS General Hospital in Monclova have tested positive for Covid-19. Among them are 17 doctors, 11 nurses and four administrative employees.
Another 24 employees are suspected to have been infected but have not yet been tested or their results of their tests are not yet known. Three others, including an emergency room doctor and the hospital’s administrative director, died after testing positive.
The doctor had treated the first known Covid-19 patient at the Monclova hospital, a truck driver who arrived at the emergency department on March 18 and died 10 days later.
Governor Miguel Riquelme said Wednesday that 76 health care workers across Coahuila have tested positive for Covid-19, a figure that represents approximately 60% of all cases in the northern border state.
In Baja California Sur, 42 medical and administrative workers at the IMSS General Hospital in Cabo San Lucas have also tested positive for the novel coronavirus. State IMSS director José Luis Ahuja Navarro said that all 42 staff members are currently in isolation at their homes. He rejected any suggestion that health authorities had tried to hide information about the outbreak.
The Cabo San Lucas hospital cases account for almost two-thirds of the 68 confirmed cases in Baja California Sur.
In Morelos, IMSS authorities reported that four emergency department workers – one doctor and three nurses – at the Cuernavaca General Hospital tested positive after treating a Covid-19 patient in March, while 19 doctors at the Regional General Hospital in Tlalnepantla, México state, have also contracted the disease.
Although IMSS General Director Zóe Robledo said that the Tlalnepantla cases did not originate in the hospital, medical personnel who work there have demanded the implementation of stricter safety measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
They say there are no temperature checks of patients and staff when entering the emergency department and that the hospital lacks alcohol-based gel for hand hygiene.
Despite the fact that the facility in Tlalnepantla — a municipality in the greater Mexico City metropolitan region — has been designated as a frontline hospital for Covid-19 treatment, staff say they lack sufficient supplies and personnel to attend adequately to all patients.
They also say that they have insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves and gowns. Some nurses fear that they have been infected with Covid-19 and have subsequently passed the virus on to other staff members as well as patients’ family members.
“We’re afraid because we have family. Colleagues are falling sick every day. There are no tests [for employees] or very few. … Now there are 170 colleagues off work because they are suspected [to have Covid-19],” said one hospital employee.
A nurse said that authorities should take the decision only to accept Covid-19 patients at the facility to avoid infections among people with other health problems.
“The ideal would be to avoid … [admitting] patients who have other types of illnesses and send them to other … hospitals,” the nurse said.
A lack of PPE has left health workers in many parts of the country without adequate protection to treat Covid-19 patients, triggering widespread protests.
Healthcare workers at the IMSS facilities where employees have been infected told the newspaper El Universal that they are exposed to the risk of infection on a daily basis due to insufficient quantities of PPE.
“They send us to war without a gun,” said one worker. “We have to fight so that they give us face masks and gloves,” said another, adding that some have workers have made their own plastic face shields to wear while on duty.
The government has acknowledged that some public health care facilities don’t have sufficient PPE supplies but has committed to bringing 20 shipments from China to meet workers’ needs.
An Aeroméxico aircraft dubbed Missionary of Peace returned to Mexico from China on Tuesday night, touching down in the capital with the first shipment of medical equipment and supplies including 800,000 much-needed N95 masks and 1 million gloves.