Life’s a beach.
The health official leading Mexico’s COVID-19 response was snapped on a maskless seaside vacation ignoring his own advice to “stay home” during the pandemic.
Dr. Hugo López-Gatell, deputy secretary of health, was caught in photos relaxing at a beach resort in southern Oaxaca, about 500 miles from his home in Mexico City, the Los Angles Times reported.
He was seen in one photo outdoors at a waterfront bar with a woman — neither of whom are wearing a mask.
In a second photo, he was captured talking on a cellphone with his mask hanging below his chin — while on a crowded flight from Mexico City.
López-Gatell had flown on New Year’s Eve to the beach destination — taking a break from his nightly news conferences in which he provides updates about the pandemic and often urges residents to “stay home,” the LA Times reported.
Critics slammed his travel as the country grapples with one of the highest death rates for coronavirus.
“He’s traveling at the worst moment of the pandemic,” political writer Denise Dresser wrote on Twitter, the LA Times reported.
“He is far from where he should be: with health personnel, implementing the vaccination campaign, setting an example.”
López-Gatell on Monday defended his trip, saying that he had “nothing to hide.”
“I went to visit very close relatives, very good friends, and we were in a private home during the days at the end of the year,” he said, the Mexico Daily News reported.
He also acknowledged that he had visited the restaurant, where he was photographed without a mask — but pointed out that he wasn’t defying any rules there since cases are lower than other regions.
He then went on to claim that some of the criticism for his trip was politically-motivated.
“In the electoral context, it’s clear that different political forces want to benefit, they want to create demons and create enemies to position themselves,” he said, the outlet reported.
Mexico’s COVID-19 czar faces backlash for maskless beach vacation The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.