Usually, Fernando Simon only addresses the general public to take stock of the health situation in Spain. But this time he had to go through a very different exercise. The chief epidemiologist of the Spanish Ministry of Health said Tuesday “sorry” after remarks deemed sexist about nurses.
“I want to apologize to all the people or groups who may have been hurt by the words I said, in a response that was meant to be a joke,” he said at the start of a conference. press release on the situation of the Covid-19 epidemic. “I’m sorry,” he added, deeming his answer “completely incorrect” and promising that he would endeavor “not to make such mistakes again on any other occasion.”
An informal and light interview
It all started with the publication on Friday of a very informal and light discussion by Doctor Simon, invited to a live Facebook. In a saucy tone, he was then asked if he preferred “contagious diseases or contagious nurses”. Dr Simon responded with a smile, about the nurses: “I didn’t ask them if they were contagious, it showed a few days later”, a response whose sexual connotation made the nurses jump.
Their order, which represents the profession in Spain, was indignant on Sunday against “this moment of macho and retrograde disinhibition” of the epidemiologist and his “sexist and primitive” tone. “Nurses have struggled for decades to get rid of all images and all macho stereotypes,” said the organization, deeming “intolerable that a person in charge” of Dr. Simon “allows himself to try to denigrate” the profession, which is also in the midst of a pandemic.
The government wants an apology
These comments were also qualified as “sexist and degrading” by the main right-wing opposition party, the Popular Party, which denounced them to the Ministry of Equality. The government joined in these criticisms on Tuesday through the first vice-president of the government, Carmen Calvo.
In an interview with Cadena Sur radio, she said Fernando Simon should apologize “as an individual and as a man and a citizen” for “very inappropriate” remarks based on “stereotypes that do not contribute to equality and respect for women ”. It’s now done.