The Mexican undersecretary and spokesman for the pandemic hopes to leave the Citibanamex Center on Monday or Tuesday
Hugo López-Gatell in one of his press conferences on covid-19 EL UNIVERSAL / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO / Europa Press
The Ministry of Health has confirmed this Sunday night that Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell, the Mexican spokesman for the health emergency, has been hospitalized for five days because of the coronavirus. The information has been confirmed by federal authorities after several days of speculation and denials from official sources about the health status of the official, who reported his illness on February 20. Dr. Ruy López Ridaura, the general director of the National Center for Preventive Programs and Disease Control (Cenace), has assured that the 52-year-old undersecretary is “very well” and “in very good spirits”, so he could graduate this Monday or Tuesday if it continues to evolve well.
On Sunday night, López-Gatell himself sent a message to La Jornada, who in the morning had published that the Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion was hospitalized at the Citibanamex Center, a field hospital set up to assist with the crisis that the covid-19 has caused in the city. The official corroborated this information by ensuring that he has been in the temporary care unit since noon on Wednesday. “The service here is excellent,” he said. “They did not hospitalize me for being delicate but to receive treatment, which is intravenous and easier to handle than at home,” López-Gatell told the newspaper, which has a lot of penetration within the Government of the so-called Fourth Transformation.
The Mexican czar for the pandemic assures that his coronavirus picture is moderate. On Wednesday, another health official pointed out that López-Gatell received supplemental oxygen since the afternoon of Monday, February 22, two days after it was reported that he had tested positive for antigens. The undersecretary was isolated in his house after the announcement and stopped appearing in the daily conferences that he offers to communicate the advance of the virus in the country. This Sunday, February 28, marks one year since the first case of covid-19 was announced in Mexico and that it has caused great wear and tear on the epidemiologist. The official has confessed in his note that thanks to the admission he has been able to “relax mentally.”
López-Gatell affirms that since his admission and until now, he has not had problems breathing. “98% saturated with minimal supplemental oxygen supply,” he always states in the aforementioned newspaper note.
The figure of the official has caused much controversy in Mexico. At the beginning of the pandemic, his press conferences became a mandatory point of reference to understand the Government’s strategy in addressing the health situation. With the passage of time, however, his role added to controversy and polarization thanks to statements that went against what was said by his colleagues in other parts of the world. Among these sayings are his reluctance to wear a mask; to say that President López Obrador did not represent a contagious force but a moral force; to say that there were no indications to affirm that the pandemic would mean a national emergency. The official was also caught vacationing in January on a Pacific beach during one of the most severe peaks of the pandemic in Mexico City and when the capital authorities tried to reinforce the message of staying home.
One of his most controversial phrases was pronounced on June 4, when he said that a catastrophic scenario for Mexico would be to reach 60,000 deaths. This Sunday, however, Mexico registers 185,715 deaths. The figure, all the experts agree, is underreported.
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