Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat Hinojosa has reported the theft of more than 20 kits of medical supplies that were intended to treat coronavirus patients.
The equipment was stolen on the weekend from the 180-bed Aurelio Valdivieso General Hospital, he said, where a special coronavirus unit had been established. In addition, a week and a half ago seven ventilators disappeared from the Mexican Social Security Institute. Murat vowed to investigate fully the disappearance of the essential medical equipment.
“I find it shameful,” the governor said. “Clearly we are going to apply the full weight of the law, because at this moment we must all assume responsibilities and make ourselves aware of what is at stake and what is at stake is the lives of our families.”
However, a leader of the National Union of Health Workers (SNTSA), Alberto Vásquez San Germán, took offense at the governor’s statements and denied that the thefts had occurred. He demanded an investigation into who told the governor the equipment was missing, demanded Murat issue a public apology and threatened a work stoppage by the health workers he represents if that didn’t occur, which in the middle of a pandemic could be deadly.
He called the governor’s statement on the theft erroneous, saying “it damages the image of those responsible for the hospital.”
For his part, Murat said a complete inventory of all medical equipment and supplies will be conducted both to provide transparency to the public and reassurance to health workers that they have the tools they need to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“We can’t be our own worst enemies,” the governor said in a radio interview about the missing equipment. “On the contrary, we have to take on this new stage with responsibility and do what we have to do.”
In a previous press conference, Murat gave thanks to the staff of Oaxaca’s 34 hospitals, 25 of which are admitting coronavirus patients into dedicated coronavirus units.
“They are the people protecting us, and shouldn’t be seen as transmitters of coronavirus,” he said, addressing those who disparage health workers as potential carriers of the virus. “We need to show unconditional solidarity to the doctors, nurses, orderlies and all of those who are on the front lines caring for the health of Oaxacans.”
Murat said he has ordered more ventilators, in addition to those provided by the federal government, and will also begin providing medical personnel with plastic masks to help keep them safe from infection.
Currently, 44 people in Oaxaca have tested positive for the virus, and there have been four deaths. Twenty-three people are hospitalized and four are on ventilators.