From today’s NYtimes
Aug. 10, 2020Updated 9:02 a.m. E
“Papito, breathe!” his wife screamed. “Please breathe.”
Within an hour, Mr. Bailón was dead.
Mexico is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, with more than 52,000 confirmed deaths, the third-highest toll of the pandemic. And its struggle has been made even harder by a pervasive phenomenon: a deeply rooted fear of hospitals.
The problem has long plagued nations overwhelmed by unfamiliar diseases. During the Ebola epidemic in 2014, many in Sierra Leone believed that hospitals had become hopeless death traps, leading sick people to stay home and inadvertently spread the disease to their families and neighbors.
Here in Mexico, a similar vicious cycle is taking place. As the pandemic crushes an already weak health care system, with bodies piling up in refrigerated trucks, many Mexicans see the Covid ward as a place where only death awaits — to be avoided at all cost.
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The consequences, doctors, nurses and health ministers say, are severe. Mexicans are waiting to seek medical care until their cases are so bad that doctors can do little to help them. Thousands are dying before ever seeing the inside of a hospital, government data show, succumbing to the virus in taxis on the way there or in sickbeds at home.
Fighting infections at home may not only spread the disease more widely, epidemiologists say, but it also hides the true toll of the epidemic because an untold number of people die without ever being tested — and officially counted — as coronavirus victims.