Doctors Without Borders treats virus patients in Tijuana as COVID-19 deaths surge

Posted at 2:51 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 22:26:45-04

TIJUANA, Mexico. (KGTV) - As Tijuana battles a surge of COVID-19 deaths, humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders is in its first full week of treating virus patients at its new temporary hospital ward inside the basketball arena that's normally home to the Tijuana Zonkeys.

On Tuesday, 10News interviewed Laura Gómez, Director of Field Operations for Doctors Without Borders’ efforts in Tijuana. She’s been stationed in Tijuana for four weeks. “We have a team of about 80 people right here,” she told 10News via Zoom.

This Tuesday, 10News’ media partner Televisa Tijuana revealed that local health officials are now reporting that about 7 people are dying every day in Baja, on average.

“We are only treating moderate and mild patients so we don't have capacity for intensive care or ventilators,” said Gómez. Less than a week ago, Gómez’s team opened the temporary hospital ward at the basketball arena. “We are right now at 40% of our capacity. Actually, today we had our first discharges of patients,” she said to 10News.

They're treating patients who've been transferred from the Tijuana General Hospital which has struggled with its caseload after several staff members became ill. “They have lost a lot of resources not only because they got contaminated by COVID-19 but also because some people [had] to be sent home. They were high-risk because of comorbidities and things like this,” she added.

Last week, 10News reported that local health officials revealed that in the first two weeks May, Baja would have the largest spike in cases and deaths, but authorities have now reportedly extended the critical period by another week.

Gómez told 10News that Doctors Without Borders is trying to recruit more doctors from other parts of the country but it's proving to be a challenge given how widespread the virus has become in Mexico.