Monclova, Coahuila, has become an epicenter of the growing Covid-19 pandemic with more than 30 public healthcare workers from a single hospital in the northern city confirmed to have the infectious disease.
At least 32 doctors and nurses at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) General Hospital have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, late last year and one doctor has died.
The concentrated outbreak is the largest in the country, leading the newspaper Milenio to dub Monclova “the Mexican Wuhan.”
About two-thirds of the 57 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Coahuila are in Monclova, a city of more than 300,000 located about 200 kilometers north of the state capital Saltillo and about the same distance south of Piedras Negras on the Mexico-United States border.
The first Covid-19 case in the city was detected on March 18 when a truck driver presented at the General Hospital’s emergency department with symptoms of the disease. The man died 10 days later and on Tuesday of this week, the 45-year-old doctor who treated him also succumbed.
The deceased doctor is believed to have transmitted Covid-19 to his colleagues while on duty. Susana Nájera Sánchez, an emergency department doctor, said that there is a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the hospital.
Staff protested the shortages on Wednesday and also demanded that all personnel be tested for Covid-19. IMSS official Eduardo Robles said later that a batch of PPE supplies had arrived at the hospital and that the facility’s medical director would be stood down due to “his age.”
Despite the large coronavirus outbreak among the IMSS medical personnel in Monclova, federal and state authorities decided at a meeting on Wednesday not to close the General Hospital. However, they said that the facility would be thoroughly sanitized to avoid any possibility of the outbreak widening.
Doctors in at least two other states have died after contracting Covid-19. Arturo Olvera Martínez, a doctor with more than 22 years experience in the public health system in Hidalgo who had been treating coronavirus patients, died on Tuesday, while 38-year-old IMSS doctor Renzo Ramírez passed away the same day in Zacatecas.
The latter is believed to have been infected by his sister who recently traveled to France, said Zacatecas Governor Alejandro Tello.
Medical personnel across the country have staged protests to demand they be given the necessary PPE and supplies to treat patients with Covid-19, which had infected 1,378 people in Mexico as of Wednesday and claimed the lives of 37.