Sancti Spiritus, With its Damaged Laboratory and an Alarming Level of Covid

Doctors confirm that relief is noticeable in the red zone, although the decline in infections is still insufficient. (Escambray)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 October 2021 — There is concern in Sancti Spíritus about the situation regarding covid-19. While there is a widespread sense that the pandemic is showing a general downward trend in infections, the province not only has the highest official rate of coronavirus cases, but it does not detect all of them. The laboratory has “technical problems” and is sending its tests to other provinces, according to the provincial daily Escambray.

Agnie Fernández González, advisor to the Acute Respiratory Infections and Tuberculosis Program, told the official press that a breakdown in the Molecular Biology Laboratory has forced Sancti Spíritus to send collected samples to similar institutions in Havana, which arrive later.

The laboratory was only able to process 516 tests according to Francisco Durán himself, national director of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Public Health, admitted at a press conference that the data of 84 cases reported in Sancti Spíritus “is not representative of the result of all samples that were being processed.”

Despite this, the province scores 16.3% positivity, the highest in the country, a situation that generates fears, although the newspaper admits that there is dispersion of cases by municipalities and considers the possibility that the highest figures correspond “to the places from which the greatest number of tests could be analyzed and not to those where the epidemiological panorama is more complex.”

In the provincial capital 25 infections were detected, in Cabaiguán 17, in Yaguajay and La Sierpe 10 each, in Trinidad nine, in Jatibonico and Fomento, five in each, and in Taguasco three. In addition, there were three deaths.

The truth is that the incidence rate of Sancti Spíritus is far from being acceptable, with an alarming 1,055 per 100,000 inhabitants, a figure much lower than that of the critical moments of August and September, but very high according to the standards of the World Health Organization. The covid standard used in the European Union places incidents greater than 250 at extreme risk.

In addition, this rate is the provincial average, but Yaguajay, La Sierpe, Trinidad and Jatibonico exceed it. Last week, Escambray published an extensive report focused on Trinidad in which several professionals gave an account of the relief they feel with the decrease in the numbers, and yet in just 15 days there were more than 2,500 positives.

“There is still resistance to admission by some people who hide the symptoms and expose the rest of the family. We are at a crucial moment to cut the transmission of the virus, but it is necessary to isolate the sick and the suspects,” warned the director of the Municipal Hygiene and Epidemiology Center, Yanisleidy Turiño Lema.

In recent weeks, the decrease in covid-19 cases has been visible, although the breakdown of Sancti Spíritus reveals that the official figures do not adjust to the real situation either. The downward trend in cases in recent weeks has made it possible to relax restrictions in provinces such as Havana, Matanzas or Santiago de Cuba, which is reflected in the resumption of transport between the capital and other cities and the reopening of food services among other measures.

This Thursday, 1,435 cases were reported throughout the island, a new day of decline that the authorities attribute to the advance of mass vaccination that, according to official figures, already covers more than 6.8 million Cubans.

The Sancti Spíritus laboratory was inaugurated at the beginning of May of this year, so it only took five months for the first breakdown to occur. The building was finished in April 2021 and the first samples were processed on May 4. Then the authorities warned that the initial rate would be 500 tests analyzed daily and that, little by little, one thousand would be reached.


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