‘Prevention is better than the cure,’ goes the old adage and the reigning Mr Gay World and COVID-19 survivor Francisco Alvarado truly believes in it in the absence of a vaccine or drug.

The Spanish doctor, who was Mr Gay World 2019 Runner-Up has had an eventful year so far – from taking care of the first Coronavirus patients at the multi-cultural health centre in Madrid where he works as cases started to rise in Spain to surviving COVID-19 and then being asked to step in as the Mr Gay World.

In an exclusive email interview with Star Observer, Francisco told us that he is now back to taking care of patients, while balancing his new responsibilities and speaking out for equal rights as Mr Gay World.

“I was most likely infected by taking care of patients in March,” Francisco said matter-of-factly. Over the next few weeks he battled the disease. “I started with mild symptoms and tested positive for PCR (reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction is the main type of test used to detect Coronavirus that causes COVID-19). The cough, headache, malaise and low-grade fever lasted for six days. I was isolated for 19 days in my room. Within three weeks I was able to come back to work.”

 Three months after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, there is no vaccine or drug for the disease. Francisco concurs with public health officials that as of now prevention is the only way that one can protect oneself and reduce infections.

“The main message is that prevention is very important: keeping a safe distance, avoiding crowded places and closed spaces, washing hands or wearing facial masks,” said Francisco.

On Instagram, where he connects with his fans, Francisco has been regularly posting updates and even sharing stories of his patients, like an 84 year old who survived COVID-19. “Let’s be responsible with the de-escalation to reduce infections and cases that have a happy ending like this,” he posted recently. In another post, he reiterates the importance of social distancing, washing hands and wearing facemasks.

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Hechos que transforman el agotamiento en la sonrisa de la segunda foto que intenta disipar ese cansancio: ***Mantener la DISTANCIA de SEGURIDAD y el LAVADO de MANOS frecuente. ***Uso (adecuado) de las MASCARILLAS (no hace falta que sean FFP2). ***El cuidado especial de los grupos más vulnerables. ***Equipos de protección individual de calidad. ***El esfuerzo y trabajo de cada persona que aporta su granito de arena para mejorar la situación, sea o no sociosanitario. ***El recuerdo y respeto por las VÍCTIMAS para hacer las cosas bien […] GRACIAS por vuestra ayuda y COLABORACIÓN. Esta sonrisa es fruto de nuestra REAPONSABILIDAD para poder volver a la nueva normalidad cuanto antes.

A post shared by 𝗙𝗥𝗔𝗡 𝗔𝗟𝗩𝗔𝗥𝗔𝗗𝗢 (@fj_alv) on

In the midst of the pandemic the news that he would take over from Mr Gay World 2019 Janjep Carlos from the Philippines at the end of his reign in April brought much needed cheer to an otherwise bleak start of the year.

The organisers announced that Mr Gay World 2020 had been postponed and this year’s contest as well as the 2021 Edition will be held in Johannesburg in March 2021.

“The truth is that it was quite a surprise. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was in the medical center consultation attending patients when I received a phone call from the Mr Gay Pride Spain delegation giving me the news of the Mr Gay World Organisation. Of course, in these times of a global pandemic due to the coronavirus, it is an injection of fresh air and an extra motivation to continue fighting for the LGBTQI community rights,” said Francisco.

 Francisco grew up in a small rural town called Extremadura in south-western region of Spain, where being LGBTQI was not easy. He moved to Salamanca when he was 18 to study medicine and then to Madrid.

“The first person I spoke about sexual orientation was my best friend, I wrote in a post-it: I am bisexual,” revealed Francisco about his first coming out experience. With his family though, it went easier that he had expected. “My grandmother directly asked me if I was gay and she was the one who told the rest of the family,” he recalled.

While he continues to be in the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, Francisio has also outlined as to how he would like to use his position as the reigning Mr Gay World. “I want to continue giving visibility to our community on social networks, defend diversity and involve the entire LGTBQI community to collaborate in these 10 months by contributing with ideas and projects. I would love to cooperate with the rest of the delegates to defend social causes in their countries. In short, work together and share this title because all of us are Mr Gay World.”

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