Mexico’s national health workers union has issued a plea for the immediate provision of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical personnel as the number of those infected with Covid-19 continues to climb.
Union leader Arturo Olivares Cerda said that was essential that supplies purchased from China reach health workers “as fast as possible.”
He said it was regrettable that medical personnel have been infected with Covid-19 due to a lack of PPE such as face masks, gloves and gowns.
“There will always be a risk [of infection] but if we have all the [necessary] instruments to confront coronavirus, the risks decrease considerably,” Olivares said.
His appeal to health authorities comes after more than two months of silence from the union on the issue of PPE even as medical personnel across the country protested to demand adequate protection to treat Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the number of medical personnel confirmed to have Covid-19 is increasing steadily as the number of coronavirus cases in Mexico also continues to rise.
More than 100 health workers at facilities operated by the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) have now tested positive for the disease. The General Hospital in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, has seen the biggest outbreak with 42 medical and administrative workers confirmed to have Covid-19.
The IMSS General Hospital in Monclova, Coahuila, has reported 32 cases among staff and three deaths while 19 resident doctors and seven interns from an IMSS facility in Tlalnepantla, México state, have tested positive. Medical personnel in Morelos, Guerrero, Querétaro, México state, Quintana Roo and Aguascalientes have also tested positive as have four public health officials in Baja California Sur.
The latest coronavirus fatality among health workers was that of a 59-year-old doctor and director of the emergency department at the La Perla hospital in Nezahualcóyotl, México state, who died on Thursday.
State authorities said that he caught Covid-19 during a recent working trip to Cuba but his colleagues – among whom there are at least 13 people confirmed to have Covid-19 – claim that he was infected at work.
They say that the infections are the result of a lack of protocols to manage possible coronavirus cases as well as a shortage of PPE.
Similarly, the doctors and interns at the Regional General Hospital in Tlalnepantla say that they were infected at work, contrary to the claims of IMSS General Director Zóe Robledo, who said that the outbreak did not originate in the facility.
The workers demanded an apology from Robledo in a letter directed to Health Minister Jorge Alcocer and Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell.
“Denying the presence of outbreaks in hospitals does not lead to them being managed,” they said, adding that more supplies are needed at the Tlalnepantla facility to treat both Covid-19 patients and people with other health problems.
The hospital has lacked general supplies for years, a situation “that is more evident now than ever,” the letter said.
The doctors and interns said they have to buy their own PPE as well as soap, anti-bacterial gel and wet wipes because there are not sufficient supplies in the hospital.
“The authorities told us that it was part of our commitment as doctors to obtain the resources [to buy supplies] by our own means,” they said, adding that authorities need to “learn quickly” from their mistakes to avoid more health workers becoming sick after being exposed to risks while at work.
“We want to work, we want to serve and we want to live to teach the next generations,” the letter concluded.