Healthcare workers have been targets for harassment. Healthcare workers have been targets of harassment.

Covid-19 fear fuels aggression against medical personnel

Physical attacks reported against nurses in Jalisco


The growing Covid-19 outbreak and the associated fear are fueling aggression against healthcare workers on the frontline of the response to the contagious disease.

Several incidents of aggression and harassment have been reported recently, triggering a plea from federal authorities to show solidarity with the nation’s medical personnel.

In Jalisco, the president of the state’s Inter-institutional Commission of Nurses, Edith Mujica Chavez, denounced both physical aggression against nurses, including attacks with bleach solutions, and verbal harassment.

In a letter to Governor Enrique Alfaro, the commission asked for help from state authorities and for the aggression to be publicly condemned.

“We all know we are potentially at risk in public health, but violence can never be tolerated, even though we are afraid of catching coronavirus,” the letter said. “We have to maintain our mental health and share information so that [people] know nurses are not enemies of society.”

The Associated Press reported that medical personnel at one hospital in Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital, were told not to wear their scrubs or uniforms when traveling to and from work because some public buses were not allowing them to board.

In Yucatán, a nurse in the state capital Mérida recounted in a Facebook post an attack to which he was subjected.

“While I was waiting for my ride, two people on a motorcycle threw an egg at my uniform,” wrote Rafael Ramírez, a nurse at a public clinic.

“I didn’t think these kinds of things happened in our city. I felt powerless not being able to do anything while they rode on laughing. We don’t deserve it. Am I afraid to go to work? Of course I am,” he wrote.

In Morelos, a small state that borders southern Mexico City, residents of the town of Axochiapan last week threatened to burn down their local hospital if it accepted any patients infected with Covid-19, while an unidentified person doused the doors of a new hospital in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León, with a flammable liquid this week.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell addressed the acts of violence and harassment at the government’s coronavirus press briefing on Monday night.

“There have been cases, you could say isolated, but all outrageous,” he said. “Fear produces irrational reactions, reactions that make no sense, have no foundation and have no justification,” López-Gatell added.

The deputy minister charged that the aggression is “even more outrageous” considering that it has been targeted at “health professionals that we all depend on in this moment because they are on the front lines facing this epidemic.”

He demanded that the attacks and harassment stop, declaring that law enforcement authorities will seek to punish those responsible.

Victor Hugo Borja, a medial director at the Mexican Social Security Institute, also condemned the aggression, pointing out that it threatened the public health system’s capacity to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“To threaten the physical safety of medical personnel or to affect the functioning and operation of the hospital infrastructure dedicated in this moment to the health emergency puts at risk the capacity of response that the population requires,” he said.

Source: AP (en) 

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