By Cristina Sanchez Reyes
Mexico City, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- Hospitals treating Covid-19 patients in Mexico’s capital are being pushed to the limits of their capacity, a state of affairs that is forcing some people to scramble to find an available bed for their loved ones.
That was the experience of Virginia Mariela, who recently spent six hours searching for a hospital that would admit her sister. “It was horrible. We visited like seven hospitals,” she told Efe on Tuesday.
Only after trying a second time at Parque de los Venados General Hospital was she successful in getting medical care for her sibling, who was having difficulty breathing.
The occupancy rate of intensive care beds in Mexico City now stands at 75 percent, according to local health authorities, who are working to equip an additional 500 beds this week for the sickest Covid-19 patients.
For his part, the director-general of epidemiology at the federal Health Secretariat, Jose Luis Alomia, acknowledged on Monday night that some medical care facilities may be approaching the point of saturation, though he denied that hospitals are completely full.
Even so, many capital residents are having difficulty finding hospital beds.
Diana Laura Gomez said her grandmother has been hospitalized for three days. Although initially diagnosed at the Salvador Zubiran National Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition, she had to be moved to another hospital due to a lack of available beds.
The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 reached a record high on Monday (4,598 patients), around 400 patients more than the previous peak level of 4,553 registered in May.
Over the past week alone, 3,517 Covid-19 patients have been admitted to Mexico City hospitals and 1,032 of them are occupying beds with ventilators, which are used to treat the sickest patients, according to the capital’s Health Secretariat.
Meanwhile, health professionals are not receiving sufficient protection, a nurse at the 21st Century National Medical Center who spoke on condition of anonymity told Efe.
With tears in her eyes, she said the hospital has only provided her and her colleagues with medical gowns and face shields.
Claiming that at least 75 percent of the staff has been infected and dozens of her colleagues have died, that nurse said a lack of protective gear is to blame.
While a Covid-19 vaccine developed by New York-based Pfizer and Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech was granted emergency authorization by Mexico’s health regulator last Friday, Dr. Xavier Tello, a physician and health care consultant in Mexico City, said it is a mistake to suppose an immunization campaign will be the solution.
“Immunity won’t be achieved for years. We don’t know when it will be safe to go out on the street and when we’re going to have 75 percent of the population inoculated,” he said.
On Tuesday, federal authorities announced plans to start administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month, starting with health workers.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, meanwhile, on Monday urged citizens in the lead-up to Christmas Day to avoid gathering in crowds on the street, only go outside when absolutely necessary and strictly follow health protocols such as regular hand-washing.
Mexico has been one of the nations hardest hit by the coronavirus worldwide with more than 1.2 million cases (13th worldwide) and nearly 115,000 deaths (fourth after the United States, Brazil and India). EFE-EPA