Public health workers have filed at least 28 complaints after being subjected to attacks, discrimination and verbal abuse as they risk their lives caring for Covid-19 patients.
Nurses have been attacked with hot coffee, eggs and bleach, barred in some cases from using public transit and faced a barrage of verbal abuse from members of the public as Mexico’s coronavirus crisis continues to grow.
“You are the focus of infection,” “you are Covid” and “you’re contaminated” are just some of the insults that have been directed at health workers, according to a report by the newspaper El Financiero. One worker received a blunt threat from an unidentified person: “If I had a gun, I’d kill you.”
In Oaxaca, an official with the State Workers’ Social Security Institute spat at doctors and nurses and coughed in their direction after testing positive to Covid-19, El Financiero reported.
In the Sierra Norte region of the same state, four doctors and six nurses were reportedly rounded up and held against their will last week on the orders of a local mayor. According to local media, some businesses in the same area have refused to sell basic goods to medical personnel while a female doctor was evicted from a room she rented because she was allegedly “contaminated.”
Oaxaca and Jalisco, where the drivers of some public buses in Guadalajara have stopped nurses from boarding, have seen the highest number of violent incidents but aggression and verbal abuse has also been reported in at least eight other states and Mexico City.
Members of the public acted aggressively towards staff at one hospital in the capital as they tried to forcibly remove a family member suspected of having Covid-19, while the personnel of another were attacked by a person seeking to enter the facility to say goodbye to a loved one who had succumbed to the disease.
In San Luis Potosí, a nurse suffered two fractured fingers during a physical attack. Nurses have been the main target of aggressors but at least five doctors and one paramedic have also been attacked.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell last week demanded that the attacks and harassment stop, declaring that law enforcement authorities will seek to punish those responsible.
He said on Saturday that the National Guard is helping to keep medical personnel safe by providing security at health care facilities before ruling out any possibility of “militarizing the country” during the coronavirus crisis.
Source: El Financiero (sp)