Mexican president works from isolation after virus test

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FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2020 file photo, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador points to a graph showing the percentages of hospital beds available, state by state, during his daily news conference at the presidential palace, Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City. Lpez Obrador was working from isolation on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, a day after announcing that he had tested positive for COVID-19, his interior secretary said. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY – Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador worked from isolation Monday, a day after announcing that he tested positive for COVID-19, and was absent from his daily news conference for the first time in his two years in office.

The president, who has rarely been seen wearing a mask, stayed out of sight as his country topped 150,000 deaths, the fourth-highest level in the world. He has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public.

He spoke by phone Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and spokesman Jesus Ramirez said afterward on Twitter that Mexico would receive 24 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, though it has not yet been approved for use in the country.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said Mexico has already received the results of Phase 3 efficacy testing on the Russian vaccine, but he did not release any figures on how well it works. He said those figures would be published soon. He said Mexico could begin receiving shipments of the vaccine in late January or February, though it has not yet been authorized for use.

López Obrador appeared “with resolute spirit, working and looking good,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who is also isolating and awaiting test results, said on Twitter.

López-Gatell said the president's symptoms so far were basically a fever.

Also Monday, the son of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim announced that his father has COVID-19 and is responding to treatment. Carlos Slim Domit wrote on Twitter that his father started having minor symptoms a week ago and sought care at one of the country’s foremost hospitals.

The president announced the diagnosis Sunday on his official Twitter account, saying, “The symptoms are mild but I am already under medical treatment."