Cuba: Nursing Student, with Covid After Being Vaccinated, Receives no Healthcare

The nursing student, Irasema Escobedo Herrera, is confined at home with her parents by Covid-19. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Irasema Escobedo Herrera, Cumanayagua, 1 August 2021 — My name is Irasema Escobedo Herrera, I am 19 years old, I study nursing and I am infected with Covid-19. I write this text in desperation because no medical personnel are following up with my family and we do not have access to medicines. I tried to post my words on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Public Health, but they censored me.

I have nothing to hide, so I accompany this testimony with my personal data and those of my parents. I live on Calle Orlando Gómez 25, between Calle Rafael Trejo and Artimes, in the municipality of Cumanayagua, in the province of Cienfuegos. When I woke up at home on the morning of July 20, I felt a fever and muscle aches.

I guessed that I was infected and went immediately to the Aracelio Rodríguez Castellón Polyclinic in Cumanayagua. But they had no antigen tests or molecular tests (also known as PCR), although there was a list of more than 400 people waiting. As of Sunday, July 18, these materials had not arrived.

To top it off, there was only one doctor treating people who arrived with respiratory symptoms. Only one for an entire municipality. They put me on a list and told me I could go home. The next day I called early to see if the tests had come but nothing yet. On Thursday I made another call and they finally had the tests.

I hurried over and arrived around 8:30 am, and there were already more than 300 people waiting, some having slept on the benches to get a test. As the hours passed, many had to leave without taking the test because the wait was too long. That day there was also only a doctor and one nurse to attend to those suspected of being infected.

Looking at all this, I asked myself “Where are the doctors in my municipality? Where have those hundreds of professionals who graduate annually in my province from the medical and nursing faculties gone? I understood less and less.

Noon passed, three in the afternoon arrived, five o’clock and the line was barely moving forward. There were women with babies in their arms, small children and many old people. Finally at 5:40 pm they did my rapid antigen test. After me there were only 25 kits left and there were more than a hundred people waiting.

My result was positive and I was taken to a room with more than 30 people crowded together. There were several small children and elderly people, bedridden, and we had to wait to do the PCR test. I was finally able to get the test around 7:30 pm. They also filled out a form with my data and as there was no fuel for the buses or taxis, I had to walk back home.

On Saturday, July 24, the doctor from the medical office stopped by our house. When I asked him if I was going to receive any medicine or medical follow-up, he replied that people who are already vaccinated do not receive any treatment. As a nursing student, I have already received all three doses of Abdala, but my parents have not had access to any. That’s why I couldn’t help but ask the doctor what they were waiting for to give us some kind of assistance. AmI going to die? Is that why they sent me home? To die?

On Sunday, July 25, my PCR test was confirmed positive. They put a sign on the door of my house warning that our house had an infected person. My parents, Maité Herrera Peña, 48 years old; and Omar Escobedo del Sol, 50, began to show the first symptoms of the disease.

On Monday the 26th, the polyclinic was given tests again and a group of doctors arrived at our house looking for a certain “Lázara Escalante Herrera,” while my name is Irasema Escobedo Herrera. I do not understand how they can confuse the name of someone who is positive for Covid in that way. Something like this only shows the lack of the organizational level that exists in confronting this pandemic.

They put my parents on a bus and took them to the polyclinic to carry out the test. Upon arrival, the same image of days ago was repeated: more than 400 people waiting, three hours later the kits ran out and my parents had to return without having been tested. This is how they continue to this day, still not tested, and my father already has a cough and shortness of breath when he goes to bed.

The days have passed and they have not brought us any medicine, although the official media repeat all the time that Cuba is a medical power. What medical power do they speak of, when there is not even a pill to lower a child’s fever? What medical power do they talk about when it is not possible to X-ray a person with Covid-19 pneumonia?

I am studying for a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Medical Sciences of Cienfuegos and I am very disappointed in the whole system and the protocol that is being followed in this pandemic. They cancelled my school vacations and sent me out to investigate possible Covid-19 infections, but they do take care of me and my colleagues. Are we not a priority?

How can they tell me that they are not going to put me on medication because I am not serious yet? Do I need to be seriously ill to receive care? In other words, if I or a member of my family is not about to die, does the country do nothing for us?

On top of that, since we can’t leave the house, we have absolutely no opportunity to go out to buy food, but they haven’t brought us any food supplies either. We have had to survive with some food we have in reserve and the solidarity of neighbors and relatives who leave something for us to eat in the doorway, such as an avocado or a little chicken.

Honestly, I am very disappointed. I urgently need my parents to be given some medication to treat the symptoms. This can not go on like this. I have decided to write and publish this testimony because to help my family I would do the impossible and much more.


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