MEXICO CITY — A day after the information that Mexico’s president had contracted Covid-19, frustration rippled by means of the road of Mexicans anxiously ready Monday to refill tanks of oxygen for kinfolk who had been affected by the identical sickness and gasping for air at residence.
For practically a yr, Mr. López Obrador had minimized the pandemic, claiming that non secular 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 obtained sick himself, some Mexicans mentioned.
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 dwelling quarters, the president might nicely get better. However their family members, however, will battle to get probably 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 residence.
“My dad believed him — he believed him that nothing would occur by not carrying a masks,” mentioned 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 residence.
“They each obtained sick,” she mentioned, however the president “doesn’t need to 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 file of single-day deaths set simply days earlier.
In Mexico Metropolis, hospitals are at 89 p.c capability. in response to the newest 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.
Up to now, greater than 1.7 million individuals have contracted the virus in Mexico and practically 150,000 individuals have died. That’s the fourth-highest demise toll on this planet. And a few specialists consider the actual toll could also be far greater.
Amid widespread distrust of hospitals, many contaminated individuals select to remain residence — 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 almost definitely far worse than the official one.
Whereas Mr. López Obrador mentioned Sunday that his signs had 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 perspective towards it.
Mr. López Obrador is just not the primary world chief to fall sick with coronavirus.
Early final yr, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain famously persevered in shaking palms 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 worry their chief will go extra the best way 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 mentioned they nervous Mr. López-Obrador would possibly 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 top 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 nicely I did? Let’s get again to enterprise as common,’ then that would actually push us over the sting,” Dr. Ximénez-Fyvie mentioned. “Individuals might drop their guard even additional, be extra reckless.
“And the president has already carried out the whole lot potential to make individuals drop their guard as it’s.”
With a fragmented and weak opposition, there’s little strong resistance to Mr. López Obrador’s coverage prescriptions. The ruling celebration, the Nationwide Regeneration Motion, was based by Mr. López Obrador and he holds nice sway over its officers, who’re mentioned to take off their masks once 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, some warned.
“In Mexico it is rather onerous to impose closures now, as a result of a number of the financial system is just not formal,” mentioned Dr. Alejandro Macias, an infectious-disease skilled. “The federal government might regulate the formal financial system, however that finally ends up growing demand for the non-regulated, casual financial system.”
The federal government had hoped to safe sufficient vaccine doses to roll out an formidable program to vaccinate most frontline well being care employees by the tip of February. However that program got here to a standstill final week after Pfizer mentioned it might not meet its promise to distribute 1.5 million doses to Mexico. By Sunday, barely fewer than 630,000 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,” mentioned Dr. Ximénez-Fyvie. “And now we’re flying blind with the vaccine.”