Health brigades disinfecting Mexican homes
By Cristina Sanchez Reyes
Photo dated Jan. 7, 2021, showing sanitation brigade member Luis Felipe Gutierrez (L) disinfecting a home where someone had Covid-19 in Mexico City's Xochimilco district. EFE-EPA/Jose Pazos
Photo dated Jan. 7, 2021, showing sanitation brigade member Luis Felipe Gutierrez (L) getting a colleague ready to disinfect a home where someone had Covid-19 in Mexico City's Xochimilco district. EFE-EPA/Jose Pazos
Photo dated Jan. 7, 2021, showing sanitation brigade member Luis Felipe Gutierrez speaking with EFE after disinfecting a home where someone had Covid-19 in Mexico City's Xochimilco district. EFE-EPA/Jose Pazos
By Cristina Sanchez Reyes
Mexico City, Dec 10 (efe-epa).- Outfitted with a protection suit, gloves, facemask, protective glasses, disinfectants, hand sanitizer and a backpack sprayer weighing more than 30 kilograms (66 pounds) when full of disinfectant, Luis Felipe Gutierrez gets ready to work each day with the home sanitation brigades in Mexico City, after surviving Covid-19 himself.
It looks like a long day, since today's schedule includes sanitizing between four and seven homes in the Xochimilco district, located in the southern part of Greater Mexico City. Most of those homes are being sanitized because people living there had Covid, and some of them did not survive.
"So far, they've (sanitized) more than 300 homes. I help people to give them a little peace of mind since we're all living in fear about having this disease at home," Gutierrez told EFE.
He is a rescue worker by profession and said he feels proud to "do his bit" during this pandemic, with 1.52 million Mexicans having been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 133,000 fatalities.
Of the 16 municipalities in Mexico City, Xochimilco is in eighth place in terms of coronavirus caseload and deaths in the pandemic, which hit Mexico in late February 2020 and has spread nationwide.
Last March, just a few weeks after Covid-19 arrived in Mexico, Gutierrez became infected and had to spend a month in bed.
"My family got infected with the deadly virus. Later, I took care of my 83-year-old grandfather who lost his life within a week," he said, holding back his tears.
Thanks to that experience, Gutierrez decided to train to be in the Xochimilco sanitation brigade.
After overcoming his illness, Gutierrez went back to work.
He admitted that although he does not have to take care of Covid-19 patients, his work is difficult nonetheless.
"We sanitize where there was a Covid death and we've seen things, the sadness that invades the homes and you carry all that with you because we're not made of iron. For me, what hurts me most are the children," he said.
Seeing the little ones cry because a relative is no longer with them, he said, is "very tough."
Gutierrez sprays ammonia inside the home of Esther Pablo Perez, a local resident who sells Mexican snacks and who asked for her home to be sanitized as a precaution.
"We asked the city for them to come sanitize (the house). (I feel) calmer, like I'm protected," she said, adding that although none of her relatives have picked up the coronavirus, her earnings have fallen off dramatically.
"Economically, there are companies and businesses that are closed. (That's) affected us a lot," she said, noting that her earnings from selling her products have dropped by 60 percent and she has had to work out of her home.
Gutierrez went through her entire house "outside and inside" and sanitized the entire place, telling her that nobody could enter it again for 20 minutes while the disinfectant took effect. Then, he told the family to take care of themselves.
Esther said that "If we don't take care of ourselves, we're going to have lots of cases. We have to try and take care of ourselves so that there are fewer (cases) since it's affecting everyone."
The health protection measures and caution being exercised in this municipality have been the best way to keep the number of cases down as much as possible. Everywhere around town are signs on walls and on signposts along the street saying: "Take care of yourself and stay at home."
"I had a bad experience and I don't wish it on anyone. That is what I can give them, a little calm inside their homes," said Gutierrez as he gets ready to continue his day's work.