In Guantanamo There is ‘Only One Ambulance’ for Covid Patients

Days ago, Cuban health authorities reported that the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants of the coronavirus are circulating in the province, which had increased serious and critical cases. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 July 2021 — After one of the most dramatic videos about the Cuban health crisis was broadcast on social networks on Tuesday, showing the death of a man in Guantánamo, the health authorities of that province recognized that they lack the resources to face the increase in positive cases of Covid-19.

In the recording, medical personnel are seen trying to revive a patient on a stretcher placed to the the side of the stairs of a field hospital set up at the University of Guantánamo. In addition, other patients are shouting that the health workers were not paying attention to the sick man. “There are no ethics or morals here,” they rebuked them.

“Today we have one ambulance for the treatment of almost the entire province,” acknowledged an official in a report on Wednesday from Cuban Television, detailing several cases that required emergency transfers and saying she had no way to assist them.

The latest deaths in the province, says the official media report, is a result of the “insufficient organization of the processes of” healthcare and “lack of emergency resources to respond to the complex situation that may arise in institutions for suspected and confirmed cases.”

“We do not have, for example, defibrillators, in the event that a patient’s heart stops, which is what has happened,” added the official without making direct reference to the death of the patient in the field hospital. However, the televised material illustrated his words with images of the case.

However, another official, when speaking of the deceased, said that the doctors tried to revive him “with all the resources” after he suffered “an arrest” and “the SIUM (Integrated System of Medical Emergencies) was called quickly.” The patient 77-year-old “did not suffer from anything, he only had Covid.”

“The ambulance didn’t take even 15 minutes to arrive, that is, the transfer of the patient was very fast,” added the woman, who says that the patient died “near the hospital.”

Days ago, the health authorities had reported that the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants of the coronavirus are circulating in the province, which had increased serious and critical cases. They also explained that patients “progress to gravity in a short time.” For their part, doctors who work in intensive care units mention that the greatest complication of COVID patients is “respiratory distress.”

In the press report of this Wednesday it is reported that the Provincial Defense Council assigned another 12 beds to the Intensive Therapy room of the Dr. Agusthino Neto General Teaching Hospital.

On the other hand, in the face of “the Covid-19 catastrophe on the Island” which “has exposed pre-existing national problems and precipitated the country into an extreme humanitarian crisis,” the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC) advocated for international solidarity and the support of Cubans living abroad.

In a statement published this Wednesday, the NGO calls on the island’s authorities “to enable and support the solidarity flow of material and human resources” of Cuban emigrants and to help implement a “civic and solidarity chain” that includes humanitarian flights and ocean transport.

It also affirms that “the Cuban Government has an ethical obligation to accept this emergency aid,” as well as to authorize the arrival of “additional Cuban health personnel,” as they support the initiatives of emigrated doctors and their organizations abroad which have offered to assist their colleagues on the island.

The FHRC clarifies that “this tragedy can be an opportunity for everyone to demonstrate, in practice, their love for their country above all differences. To block shipments would be a crime against humanity.”

The organization also reiterated the request it made two weeks ago to the US State Department to “offer a donation of medicine and food worth up to 10 million dollars, apart from the fact that the embargo does not prohibit the sale of these supplies” to Cuba.

On Thursday, July 8, Cuba registered two new absolute daily records* since the beginning of the pandemic: that of cases of Covid-19 with 3,819 and that of deaths with 26, including a two-month-old baby, as reported by the Ministry of Public Health.

The previous maximum of infections reported in a day had occurred yesterday with 3,664, and the number of deaths on Monday, with 21.

*Translator’s note: as of July 12 these numbers are continuing to climb and set new records daily.


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