Nurses at a hospital in Mexico were reportedly told not to wear face masks so they wouldn't incite panic in patients


Nurses at a hospital in Mexico claim their managers are telling them not to wear masks so they won't incite fear in their patients, Reuters reported.

The IMSS General Hospital in Monclova, Mexico, is the first known coronavirus hotspot in the country, according to the Reuters report. Two doctors and a hospital administrator died from the virus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19.

Fifty-one medical staff members are infected, according to the state health department, and four are currently hospitalized.

Seven workers told Reuters they were instructed not to wear face masks by hospital floor managers, even as medical staff began to show symptoms.

One nurse, identified by her surname Hernandez-Perez, was ordered by a deputy head of nursing not to wear her mask so she wouldn't "create a psychosis" among patients. She later fell ill and tested positive for the disease.

"In a morning clinical class, the sub-head told us not to create panic ... that we shouldn't wear face masks because we were going to create a psychosis," she said.

On March 22, one nurse told Reuters that the staff was instructed to take off their N95 masks because they were "not necessary," Reuters reported.

Nurse Charly Escobedo Gonzalez, who also works at the hospital, echoed that account, telling Reuters that managers "said that protective equipment wasn't necessary."

Raul Pena Viveros, a senior IMSS official, told Reuters that the health workers' accounts should "of course" be believed, but he did not confirm if staff members were being told not to wear masks, saying there could be a miscommunication on when workers should wear masks.

"Not all of the workers have to wear the same equipment inside the hospital," he told Reuters. "And when this type of equipment is used badly ... it runs out more quickly and they put workers who are in contact with patients at risk."

Like many hospitals around the world treating an overwhelming number of coronavirus patients, the IMSS General Hospital also experienced a PPE shortage, prompting some staff to wear inappropriate industrial-style masks to protect themselves as they tend to patients, Pena Viveros told Reuters.

As of Tuesday evening, Mexico has nearly 5,400 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 400 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.