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In his 32 years as a taxi driver in Mexico City, El Senor Juan by no means had bother discovering a rider – till this week.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic that has turned a lot of the world the other way up has left Latin America largely unscathed, however that each one modified Thursday when Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador introduced all non-essential actions can be suspended, bringing the bustling metropolis to a grinding halt.
“The streets are empty, most shops closed and of those that are open are without people, the Metrobus [is] empty and [the] subway has very low turnout,” Juan advised Fox Information in a telephone dialog. “I see people panicking, they are afraid of getting coronavirus.”
The transfer was a nice shock for health care professionals who’ve been pleading for extra motion from the president however fear the choice got here too late.
“The government took a very important step, but they waited too long for this decision,” Dr. Jose Luis Vargas Segura, a pulmonologist, advised Fox Information. “We need to stop all movement in the country, it is the only way to stop the cases. … You can assume that more and more cases are not diagnosticated right now because we don’t have tests.”
“The government took a very important step, but they waited too long for this decision.”
As confirmed circumstances of the virus have skyrocketed worldwide – together with within the U.S., which now leads all nations with greater than 100,000 – one physician mentioned López Obrador had been taking a reasonably relaxed method in addressing the disaster, generally even contradicting messages physicians convey to the nation. However the physician, who spoke to Fox Information on the situation of anonymity, fears the worst is but to return.
“We will see the real level of urgency at the end of March and the first half of April. We are a country with many obese [citizens], 12 percent diabetics, 20 percent hypertensive,” the physician mentioned. “We are a vulnerable population with a limited and insensitive government and a history of corruption — a bad combination in a pandemic like COVID-19.”
When Mexico had its first confirmed coronavirus case on the finish of February, López Obrador tried to reassure the general public.
“It is not terrible or fatal,” he said. “It is not even equivalent to influenza.”
Since then, the president has continued to encourage the general public to hug and socialize, tweeting a video as not too long ago as Monday for individuals to proceed to go to eating places collectively.
“Do not stop going out, we are still in Phase 1,” López Obrador mentioned within the video. “if you can do it and you have the means, keep taking the family out to eat at the restaurants.”
A number of days later López Obrador suspended nonessential actions, a transfer much like what has been executed via a lot of the U.S., as Mexico jumped to Section 2 with greater than 700 confirmed circumstances and 12 deaths.
Though López Obrador waited, many native state governments enacted their very own measures a number of weeks earlier to gradual the unfold of the novel virus of their respective communities.
“Each place [state] is trying to solve the problem on their own. … It’s a headless battle in Mexico,” Dr. Victor Gomez, a cardiothoracic surgeon at a normal hospital in Cancun, advised Fox Information.
“Each place [state] is trying to solve the problem on their own. … It’s a headless battle in Mexico.”
Dr. Jaime Sanchez, who runs a personal apply in Guadalajara within the Angeles del Carmen Hospital complicated, mentioned the president’s laid-back method was “certainly a risky way to tackle the epidemic,” however he additionally described it as “a smart way.”
“The passive attitude of the president has been encouraged not only by his great approval throughout the country, but also that he has had an attitude — let’s say responsible — in maintaining the subsistence economy that this country has,” Sanchez mentioned. “I definitely think … that really what the president is trying is not to generate a situation of panic in the country and to manage information and stagger it until reaching the point where he asks us to do what the government requests, which is social distancing in certain areas.”
Many states within the U.S. — together with New York, the epicenter of the nation’s disaster — had been fast to close down companies and mandate that folks keep at dwelling in an effort to “flatten the curve” — or cut back the stress on the well being care infrastructure by slowing the speed of infections. Nevertheless, the choice has had a serious impression on the American economic system and workforce.
“If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say quarantine everyone,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned throughout a Thursday information convention. “I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy.”
Nevertheless, Mexico doesn’t have the identical sources at its disposal that the U.S. does to fight a pandemic. And whereas delaying shutting down companies may need been a strategic financial transfer, it additionally opened the nation to potential catastrophe.
“A catastrophic scenario in Mexico City is very likely,” Gomez mentioned. “Although I see Cancun or other small cities at serious risk depending on infrastructure.”
In Mexico Metropolis, which has a inhabitants of greater than 20 million, there are solely 400 intensive care unit beds, Gustavo Reyes Terán, head of Mexico’s Coordinating Fee of Nationwide Institutes of Well being and Excessive Specialty Hospitals, specified at a information convention. All through your entire nation there are about 3,000 ICU beds.
“I work in a large hospital with more than 300 beds and the possibility of having 60 ventilators working,” the physician, who works on the facility in Mexico Metropolis, mentioned. “The internists we train are true hospitalists and know how to treat seriously ill patients, but imagine the rest of the hospitals, not all of them have the same infrastructure.”
Though there are greater than 4,600 hospitals, Mexico has simply 1.Three hospital beds per 1,000 residents and since a big a part of the inhabitants is unfold out amongst rural communities in states like Tabasco, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, lots of the nation’s hospitals are small and don’t have the infrastructure to deal with a serious disaster.
Medical doctors and nurses already lack correct gear like masks, gloves, and ventilators to adequately handle the outbreak – a scenario much like that within the U.S. – nevertheless, there are far fewer circumstances in Mexico.
“I do not have my own protection equipment, I have some basic supplies such as highly efficient mouth guards or material disinfectants, but not my own equipment to deal with this problem,” Sanchez mentioned. “It is assumed that private and public institutions will provide these materials to their doctors for the care of patients, but due to comments from colleagues in other public venues, most have had problems equipping the necessary materials.”
Vargas, who works at a hospital in Cancun, says he has the required gear, however his colleagues in different states in Mexico battle to acquire protecting gear.
“The situation right now in a lot of hospitals in Mexico, in states, besides Mexico City, are having a lot of troubles with that. I’m hearing from my colleagues in other states and they don’t even have masks or glasses,” he mentioned.
Moreover, roughly 42 % of Mexico’s inhabitants lives beneath the nationwide poverty line, in line with 2018 information from the World Financial institution, complicating the scenario much more because the working class struggles to seek out methods to place meals on the desk.
Puebla Gov. Miguel Barbos on Thursday claimed the poor had been “immune” to the brand new coronavirus, saying it targets solely the wealthy, apparently in response to information exhibiting nearly all of these contaminated in Mexico are rich, in line with The Related Press.
“The government does not have forceful programs to protect people who work in formal or informal commerce or public transport because they simply do not act with common sense,” El Senor Juan, the Mexico Metropolis taxi driver, advised Fox Information. “We have to act for our survival by working and taking risks despite the fact that there is a call to stay home.”
What worries Dr. Jessica Valencia, head of the respiratory remedy division at Hospital Angeles del Pedregal, is the financial fallout from an extended interval of quarantine.
“I think a lot of Mexicans are taking this seriously, in spite of our president who is definitely not taking this seriously,” Valencia advised Fox Information. “I am really concerned not only in terms of health, but in terms of our economy during and after the outbreak. We were already weak and that’s what worries me the most.”