May 9, 2020 / 11:00 PM / 16 days ago

Hospitals treating COVID-19 in Mexican capital quickly filling up

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Coronavirus patients were being turned away from hospitals in the Mexican capital on Saturday, as both public and private medical facilities quickly fill up and the number of new infections continues to rise.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing protective suit transports a woman suspected of being infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Hospital General de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

Of the 64 public hospitals in the capital’s sprawling metro area designated to receive patients sick with COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus, 26 are completely full, according to city government data.

A vinyl banner on the fence of the Ignacio Zaragosa public hospital in the city’s poor Iztapalapa district said it had no more beds for new coronavirus patients.

“We thank you for your understanding,” it added.

Doors paramedics entered with patients on stretchers last week were closed on Saturday at the public facility, with orange barrels set up to block access.

Another 16 public clinics were nearly full, while 22 others did have space, the data showed.

Five private hospitals in the capital contacted by Reuters said they had reached their capacity to treat coronavirus patients, including the Medica Sur hospital, Hospital Español, as well as two clinics belonging to Grupo Angeles.

Available beds and intensive care units equipped with ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients at private hospitals in five states and Mexico City are already saturated, according to figures from the National Association of Private Hospitals.

The states include Puebla, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Baja California and Baja California Sur.

“Right now we don’t have any space,” said an attendant at the private Centro Medico ABC hospital.

The government has said this weekend could mark the peak of infections in the densely populated area in and around the capital, home to more than 20 million people, which is also where most confirmed cases have been documented.

Public health officials have confirmed at least 31,522 infections and 3,160 deaths to date, although both figures almost certainly undercount the true extent of the outbreak in Mexico due to very limited testing.

Citing modeling data from a few weeks ago, public health authorities have said there could be more than 104,000 COVID-19 cases.

As recently as Thursday, the health ministry said the capital still had 38% availability of beds with ventilators to treat patients, while in the surrounding state of Mexico, 55% remained available.

Nationwide, three-quarters of beds with ventilators were still available for new patients, the ministry said.

Reporting by Diego Ore and Ana Isabel Martinez; Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Dan Grebler

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