Mexico’s Assistant Health Secretary and face of the COVID fight says mask wearers are “egotistical”

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government’s point man for the coronavirus pandemic has once again made waves by calling those who wear facemasks “egotistical people.”

Social media users expressed outrage Friday at the comments by Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell, made in a speech earlier this week at a book fair.

“The idea of face masks became an instrument in which egotistical people, egotistical social groups, tried to blame others: ‘Put your face mask on because you are going to contaminate me and my little universe,’ López-Gatell said. “When, in technical terms, we would have gotten better results if we had thought of face masks as a means of social connection, to protect one another.”

López-Gatell cast doubt on the usefulness of facemasks in 2020, early in the pandemic. And in March, he was photographed walking around Mexico City’s upscale Condesa neighborhood without one, days before he confirmed he was infected with the virus.

Many felt López-Gatell had little right to criticize the reasons other people wore masks.

“Cynical. Didn’t Gatell stroll around Condesa with a mask when he had COVID?” wrote Twitter user Andrea Bárbara López Olvera.

Mexico, with 126 million people, has suffered 283,574 test-confirmed COVID-19 deaths. But a government study of death certificates suggests the real toll is over 425,000.

While President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself seldom wears a mask and has refused to make them mandatory, most Mexicans continue to wear them in public areas.

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