Colombian authorities are investigating the case of a transgender sex worker who died after allegedly being refused treatment for suspected COVID-19.
Alejandra Monocuco, 39, worked as sex worker in the Colombian capital Bogota, and following her death, her name has turned into an anti-discrimination symbol in the country.
On May 29th, Alejandra started to have trouble breathing while she was at home around midnight. Madre Leidy, a transgender woman who lives with her and works in helping other transgender women in the neighbourhood of the city center of Bogota called the emergency services as she feared Alejandra had COVID-19.
One hour later, the ambulance arrived and two paramedics reportedly found her in a bad way.
Madre Leidy asked paramedics to take her to the hospital and told them that she was a transgender woman, who was also HIV.
She said the paramedics then left without taking the woman, and according to Madre Leivy, their attitude was discriminatory.
Paramedics reportedly refused to take her to the hospital and told her to stay at home, allegedly adding that if she was suffering from coronavirus then her condition would likely improve with time.
Alejandra died on May 29th just 40 minutes after the ambulance arrived.
According to local media, a second ambulance was called as Alejandra was not moving, paramedics then found her without vital signs and confirmed her death.
Since her death, trans rights activists have started a campaign through social networks with the hashtag “Justicia para Alejandra” (Justice for Alejandra), which was supported by celebrities and other leading figures in the country.
According to the organisation, Alejandra’s deceased body was taken from her home without it being disinfected, and her housemate was not tested for COVID-19.
The Bogota health secretary sent a press statement days after the outcry, claiming that the trans woman had refused hospital treatment and had died from natural causes.
Activists denied this and days later officials released a second statement admitting that they had made a mistake by claiming that she had refused hospital care.
The city council and the prosecution have now opened an investigation after the mayor of Bogota, Claudia Lopez, asked for a probe to be carried out.
The investigation is ongoing and so far no arrests have been made.
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