Guantanamo’s Funeral Service Has Collapsed, According to Communal Services Official

An official clarified that, on average in the province, about 12 funeral services are held daily, a figure that has skyrocketed in recent days. (Iliana Hernández / Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 August 2021 — Corpses transported in trucks, funeral services overwhelmed, and collapsed hospitals, are the complaints that, from various parts of the country, reach the 14ymedio newsroom. Complaints also flood social networks, one of the few avenues where Cubans pour out their pain for the loss of loved ones who die without medical attention or optimal assistance.

This is what happened in Guantánamo, where the complaints have reached the local telecenter in that province. Ihosvany Fernández, director of Community Services, had to respond to the complaint of an Internet user who published on his Facebook account the photo of a truck destined to transport goods when it was used to transport five bodies.

Fernández, before giving other details, acknowledged that the image was real and explained the situation of the fleet of funeral vehicles: “We have 29 and 17 are operational, which is 58%.” The director of Communals also clarified that on average, in the province, about 12 funeral services are held daily, at least eight in the city of Guantánamo and four in the rest of the province; a figure that has skyrocketed in recent days.

“On August 4 we worked with 67 [deceased], on the 3rd with 61 and on the first day of August with 80,” of the latter 69 were in the city. “The funeral transport has already collapsed. We are working with two Etecsa [State phone company] vans and two commercial trucks,” he added.

“We act on the protocol according to the death certificate issued by public health. These corpses are treated in a logical way, to explain it to the population where the corpse is disinfected with chlorine, the corpse is sprayed in the bag where it is introduced,” explained Fernández.

“It is very difficult, from eight deaths a day to 69, no one was prepared, that is why the issues with the transport decisions that we have had to make,” admitted the official when clarifying that “the morgue is not prepared for that,” it only has capacity “to have five or six deceased there” and not “to receive 50 or 60 a day,” he said. He also announced that they are working on installing another cremation furnace in the province because the only one that exists does not provide enough capacity and has suffered breakages due to the increase in deaths.

The crisis has reached a point in health centers, where some doctors and nurses have not shown up for work. Dr. Pablo Feal Cañizares, who heads the national commission to support Guantánamo, when talking in the official press about the intervention process with the Abdala vaccine, said: “Today we have more than 300 nurses and more than 100 doctors, where it is not clear they are actively engaged.”

In other provinces of the country, not only funeral services have collapsed. The health system has also been overwhelmed and the responses from doctors and officials are even more frustrating. This is the case in Santa Clara, from where a relative sent a video to the 14ymedio newsroom to expose the vicissitudes suffered by a 69-year-old woman whohad a stroke at home on Monday.

When the ambulance arrived at Jacinta Rivera Rodríguez, the nurse made arrangements to transfer the patient to a hospital. “There is no bed and, given the conditions, he had to die at home, was the answer given to the ambulance by the doctor at the coordination center,” the relative complains.

After much insistence, Jacinta was transferred to the Arnaldo Milan Castro hospital in Santa Clara, where she was placed in a space for respiratory cases, a space that includes part of a corridor of the health center. “They have her ventilated in an open room where there are Covid patients.”

The video shows how the area with beds and stretchers with sick patients stretches from the entrance to the hospitals. “She needs to be in an intensive care room now but they say they have no capacity,” the relatives denounced and after complaining to the deputy director of medical assistance at the hospital, they informed her that “she has to stay here until she dies.”

From the Holguín Pediatric Hospital, a source confirmed that health personnel do not have a rapid test to test patients. “They do a plaque, if they have serious lungs, you have Covid and you stay hospitalized. If you do not have serious lungs they send the child home.”


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