A Mexico City police officer has died of coronavirus triggering demands for more personal protection equipment as police patrol the city’s busy streets, metro stations, hospitals and supermarkets.
“We have not been tested, and we don’t know how many people we come in contact with on the streets are contagious. Only now, after the death of a colleague, are safety measures being put in place,” said one officer only identified as Ramiro N. of the Napoles division where the fallen officer also patrolled.
The officer, 43-year-old Efraín Santillán who also suffered from Type-2 diabetes, worked security at the Vive Latino music festival March 15 and 16, and worked his regular patrol routes March 17, 20 and 23. He began suffering from respiratory symptoms some 11 days before his death, tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized before passing away on April 4.
During a virtual press conference Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum confirmed that of the nine other officers who have tested positive for coronavirus, two are hospitalized and seven others are self-isolating under medical supervision, as are 59 others who may have been exposed to the virus.
As the number of those tested positive grows, so does fear among law enforcement agents. Some officers expressed concerns that the personal protective equipment they need is coming too little and too late.
“They are just now beginning to clean and distribute masks and gloves but there aren’t enough for everyone,” said Ramiro N., noting that officers are assigned to posts such as metro stations where people often don’t know about the quarantine or don’t abide by even the most basic health guidelines, coughing without covering their mouth, or people with cold symptoms touching their face.
Another officer noted that police have to share bullet-proof vests without knowing if whoever used the vest on the previous shift came into contact with the virus.
Sheinbaum pledged to be transparent with information about the virus, offered condolences to the family of the fallen officer, and pledged her support for all members of law enforcement serving the citizens of Mexico’s capital city during the pandemic.
“They have a job that they cannot leave; we are giving them all the support they require,” she said.