MEXICO CITY—Maribel Larios, a nurse and single mother with a pile of debt, volunteered for extra shifts at her local public hospital as Covid-19 raged, despite suffering from obesity and diabetes.
Because of her risk profile, the hospital assigned her to a non-Covid area. But it didn’t matter. A patient with a rare neurological disorder tested positive for the virus, and eight days later Ms. Larios fell ill. A week later, she was dead, leaving behind a 9-year-old daughter.
“We warned her that she was at big risk, but she badly needed the money,” said Erika Dueñas, a nurse and close friend who works at the same hospital.
Ms. Larios’ case illustrates the pandemic’s high toll on Mexico’s health-care workers, many of whom are so poorly paid they take on extra shifts or other jobs outside the hospital, putting them at even greater risk. Many also feel neglected by a public-health system that has failed to provide them with adequate protective equipment like masks.
Since the epidemic started last March, nearly 2,500 health workers have died from coronavirus in Mexico and some 188,000 were infected as of Jan. 4, data from Mexico’s health ministry show. That compares to an estimated 3,132 deaths of U.S. health-care workers as of Jan. 6 in a recent analysis by the Guardian newspaper and Kaiser Health News. But the U.S. has nearly three times Mexico’s population.