14ymedio, Havana, 8 April 2020 — A doctor from Calixto García Hospital, in Havana, has been admitted in a “critical condition” with Covid-19 to the Luis Díaz Soto military hospital, according to an official report released this Wednesday. The report does not indicate the profession of the patient and merely points out that he is a 42-year-old Cuban citizen who “had contact with a traveler from Lombardy, Italy.”
According to sources consulted by 14ymedio at the Calixto García hospital, he is a doctor from Cárdenas with the initials C.J.D. and works in the Intermediate Care Unit (UCIM). Those same sources denounce the serious deficiencies in the protection materials for health personnel and the lack of control of those infected admitted to various institutions.
The official report indicates that the patient presents “acute respiratory distress and is reported in critical condition.” Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are unable to breathe on their own and require the assistance of a respirator.
After maintaining absolute silence about the health personnel affected by the coronavirus, the authorities have finally recognized this Wednesday that there are now 25 health professionals who have tested positive for Covid-19, including 14 doctors and 8 nurses. As for the general population, the official account for the day is as follows: 457 confirmed, 1,732 admitted, 12 deceased and 27 recovered.
“It is evident that we are experiencing an in-hospital outbreak,” says one of the medical sources at Calixto García. “Even the director is isolated, we have had positive cases in the hospital but the doctors have not carried out the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. There is no special protocol for doctors at this hospital, we end up just like everyone else.”
He complains about the enormous workload. “I have 31 patients, I have not slept in 26 hours. So I had to go talk to the epidemiologist because 11 patients came with inflammatory lesions that came out in the lung plates but no transfer. Here there are no [appropriate] conditions, we are all together in a small room with no air, no distance between us, half a meter. There cannot be cases with respiratory symptoms in this hospital, there has to be a hospital for that.”
Last week alarms also went off at the Fajardo hospital in El Vedado when a patient tested positive for the virus after being hospitalized for several days. According to the established protocol, anyone with suspicious symptoms should be immediately isolated and referred to a center dedicated to the treatment of Covid-19. As a result of that incident, on the night of 30 March 38 Fajardo employees were referred to an isolation zone for testing.
As confirmed by this newspaper an employee of Fajardo whose test was negative, five of the 38 workers tested positive for Covid-19. “The following Thursday and Friday, the rapid tests were carried out on all the hospital staff and luckily no one else tested positive. We are all upset that the managers authorized the admission of three patients despite the fact that we insisted that they were suspicious cases, and one of them died later,” he explains. “We found out afterwards that they had contact with a relative who came from Spain but they did not say so at the beginning.”
This week seven employees of the Calixto García Hospital tested positive, including the chief of angiology, several nurses and a cleaning assistant. “The situation is not just here in my hospital. One of the deceased was a kitchen assistant in the González Coro maternal hospital. I have learned of cases in the National Hospital, in Emergencies, and in the 26th Clinic.
There is no infrastructure to support an increase in cases in Cuba, says the same medical source. “There are no means of protection, we only have one pair of gloves, one facemask and one gown when in fact we should change every so often.” A donation from China, which delivered 200,000 face masks and 2,000 disposable suits on Monday, among other things, could ease the situation somewhat.
Since his isolation at the Higher School for State Cadres, near the National Zoo, the doctor from Fajardo recounts the conditions in which he has been for a week. “Most of us, as in my case, are alone in a room, we are all health workers, doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and administrative employees. We all had contacts in one way or another with the deceased patient or his relatives.”
He says that the five colleagues who tested positive were taken to the Salvador Allende hospital, known as Covadonga, in El Cerro, which is one of the centers prepared to receive suspicious cases. “They are medicating them there, they are given Kaletra (Lopinavir + Ritonavir), Hydroxychloroquine and Interferon.”