March 1, 2021
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Mexico has admitted that its controversial coronavirus tsar, Hugo López-Gatell, is in hospital with Covid after initially calling such reports “fake news”.
López-Gatell, who is a 52-year-old epidemiologist, tested positive for Covid on 20 February and has been in hospital since last Wednesday. But authorities only revealed the fact on Sunday after press reports that the health ministry initially denied.
On Sunday night health official Ruy López Ridaura said he hoped López-Gatell could be discharged on Monday or Tuesday and claimed he was doing well after being admitted to hospital last week with a “moderate” case and requiring supplemental oxygen.
Mexico’s official Covid death toll now stands at more than 185,000, the world’s third highest after the US and Brazil, with more than two million cases reported. However, many believe low testing rates and under reporting, mean the true situation is even worse.
López-Gatell has faced heavy criticism for undermining the use of face masks and carrying out insufficient testing. In January he caused outrage by taking a beach holiday in Oaxaca despite government calls for citizens to remain at home. During his trip López-Gatell was photographed on a famous Pacific coast beach without a mask.
Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday banned the government from the sweeping use of mobile phone tracking of coronavirus carriers, calling the measure a grave infraction of civil liberties.
Used on and off since March 2020 in efforts to curb the pandemic, the Shin Bet counter-terrorism agency’s surveillance technology matched carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they came into contact.
From the outset, civil rights groups had mounted court challenges over privacy concerns while lawmakers cast doubt about the efficacy of the contact-tracing tool.
In its ruling, the court said it feared the mobile phone tracing, imposed as a temporary emergency measure, was slowly becoming permanent.