Mexico’s President Has Covid. Will It Make Him Take the Illness Extra Significantly?

MEXICO CITY — A day after the information that Mexico’s president had contracted Covid-19, frustration rippled by the road of Mexicans anxiously ready Monday to refill tanks of oxygen for kinfolk who have been affected by the identical sickness and gasping for air at house.

For practically a yr, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had minimized the pandemic, claiming that spiritual amulets protected him, refusing to put on masks and even consuming from the identical clay pot as supporters. It was solely a matter of time till he acquired sick himself, some Mexicans stated.

With the president now contaminated, what most aggrieved many Mexicans was not solely that he had flouted primary security precautions, however that he additionally might return to taking part in down the menace that the surging pandemic poses after his personal sickness.

They famous that with top-notch medical care delivered at his residing quarters, the president might properly recuperate. However their family members, however, will wrestle to get essentially the most primary care, whether or not a mattress at an overflowing hospital or simply the provides like oxygen that may assist them survive at house.

“My dad believed him — he believed him that nothing would occur by not carrying a masks,” stated Lilia Ramírez Díaz, who was making the second journey of the day to refill an oxygen tank for her diabetic father, battling Covid-19 at house.

“They each acquired sick,” she stated, however the president “doesn’t should go round trying and begging for an oxygen tank.”

A devastated Mexico is struggling to rein within the pandemic. Three days earlier than the president disclosed his personal an infection on Sunday, the authorities introduced greater than 1,800 coronavirus deaths, breaking the record of single-day deaths set simply days earlier.

In Mexico Metropolis, hospitals are at 89 p.c capability. based on the latest well being ministry figures, whereas nationwide, the determine is 60 p.c. Throughout the nation, greater than half of all hospitals beds with ventilators are full.

To date, greater than 1.7 million folks have contracted the virus in Mexico and greater than 150,000 folks have died. That’s the fourth-highest demise toll on the earth. And a few specialists consider the actual toll could also be far greater.

Amid widespread distrust of hospitals, many contaminated folks select to remain house — and infrequently die there. The reason for demise will not be listed as Covid-19. That, mixed with the nation’s low ranges of testing, means the pandemic’s true toll is most likely far worse than the official one.

Whereas Mr. López Obrador stated Sunday that his signs have been gentle and that he “remained constructive,” medical doctors warned that the 67-year-old coronary heart assault survivor was in a excessive threat class.

And it stays to be seen if his personal bout with the virus will change the Mexican chief’s angle towards it.

Mr. López Obrador just isn’t the primary world chief to fall ailing with coronavirus.

Early final yr, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain famously persevered in shaking fingers with Covid-19 sufferers solely to be admitted to a hospital himself after contracting the illness.

Mr. Johnson emerged from his well being emergency expertise sounding chastened, and with a brand new, intimate consciousness of the virus’s hazard. He went on to embrace masks carrying and lockdowns and different measures designed to assist stem transmission.

However in Mexico, some public well being specialists concern their chief will go extra the way in which of former President Donald J. Trump, who beat the virus final yr after which continued to minimize the pandemic and undermine well being officers’ suggestions.

A number of public well being specialists interviewed stated they fearful Mr. López-Obrador may preserve his opposition to masks carrying, lockdowns and social distancing.

And if Mr. López Obrador recovers after which factors to his personal expertise to dismiss the hazard, it could assist worsen Mexico’s surge in circumstances, warned Laurie Ann Ximénez-Fyvie, the pinnacle of the molecular genetics laboratory on the Nationwide Autonomous College of Mexico.

“If López Obrador comes out of this saying: ‘See? I’m an previous particular person with hypertension, and see how properly I did? Let’s get again to enterprise as standard,’ then that would actually push us over the sting,” Dr. Ximénez-Fyvie stated. “Individuals might drop their guard even additional, be extra reckless.

“And the president has already carried out every little thing attainable to make folks drop their guard as it’s.”

With a fragmented and weak opposition, there may be little sturdy resistance to Mr. López Obrador’s coverage prescriptions. The ruling get together, the Nationwide Regeneration Motion, was based by Mr. López Obrador and he holds nice sway over its officers, who’re stated to take off their masks after they’re across the president to keep away from upsetting him.

Even when Mr. López Obrador modifications his message and urges residents to take precautions, it could not work.

“In Mexico it is vitally arduous to impose closures now, as a result of a whole lot of the economic system just isn’t formal,” stated Dr. Alejandro Macias, an infectious-disease knowledgeable. “The federal government might regulate the formal economic system, however that finally ends up rising demand for the non-regulated, casual economic system.”

The federal government had hoped to safe sufficient vaccine doses to roll out an bold program to vaccinate most frontline well being care staff by the tip of February. However that program got here to a standstill final week after Pfizer stated it might now not meet its promise to distribute 1.5 million doses to Mexico. By Monday night time, barely greater than 640,000 doses had been administered throughout the nation.

On Monday, Mexican officers spoke with their Russian counterparts to safe 24 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, however well being specialists warning that the Russian vaccine’s efficacy and security can’t be assured.

“Mexico has been flying blind all through this pandemic,” stated Dr. Ximénez-Fyvie. “And now we’re flying blind with the vaccine.”

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