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Mexico leads in COVID deaths among health-care workers

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A mother diagnosed with COVID-19 walks with her daughter as medical staff disinfects their steps, at the General Hospital Ajusco Medio in Mexico City in August. Photo: Getty Images

At least 1,320 health-care workers are confirmed to have died in Mexico alone, the highest known figure for any country, according to Amnesty International.

Mexico’s population is a third of the U.S., but health-worker fatalities outnumber their northern neighbor by nearly 250. The United States had the second-highest total, according to the report.

At least 7,000 health workers have died around the world after contracting COVID-19, said the agency.

“For over seven thousand people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale,” said Steve Cockburn, an Amnesty International official.

The Mexican Ministry of Health confirmed 97,632 cases of COVID-19 among health-care workers as of Aug. 25.

Hospital cleaning crews in Mexico are especially vulnerable to infection. Many cleaners in health settings in Mexico are outsourced, which means they have less protection, said Amnesty.

In May, Amnesty International documented the case of 70-year-old Don Alejandro, who works as a cleaner in state hospital facilities in Mexico City. Don Alejandro said he had requested to be re-assigned to clean in administrative areas, due to his risk profile for COVID-19. His employer granted his request but reduced his income by approximately 16%, they said.

Throughout the pandemic governments have hailed health workers as heroes, but this rings hollow when so many workers are dying from a lack of basic protection, said Cockburn.

Amnesty International credited the Mexican government for keeping a detailed registry of health worker deaths, with breakdowns on age, gender and profession.

Such transparency is essential and all countries should be making this kind of detail available, and may also explain why Mexico’s numbers are higher than countries that don’t keep accurate records, said Amnesty.

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