Coronavirus: the hospitals of Panama to the brink of collapse

Coronavirus: les hôpitaux du Panama au bord de l’effondrement

Hospitals in Panama are on the verge of collapse in the face of the progression of galloping epidemic Covid-19 in this country that is formally identified the largest number of cases of contamination in central America.

“The amount of hiv-infected patients has not ceased to increase up to exceed the thousand per day “, explains to the AFP dr. David Villalobos, head of the intensive care unit of the hospital Arnulfo Arias Madrid of the capital.

Panama (4 million inhabitants) has increased in recent weeks of some 200 cases per day to about 1100. The official statistics reported Thursday, more than 41 000 cases, that is the worst figure of the central America. The country also has more than 800 deaths.

“There is no hospital capable of absorbing such a quantity” of patients, said Mr. Villalobos, pointing to the exhaustion of teams of health care providers, subject to work schedules and endless.

The health authorities have been forced to reorganize hospitals to cope with the influx of patients and even to open facilities of fortune in congress.

“The fear of the collapse of the public healthcare system of our country is obvious, if the number of cases is maintained. It is likely that we have no more space to put beds in the next two weeks, ” says AFP Domingo Moreno, coordinator of the Committee on national medical, which includes the physicians.

According to official statistics, nearly 20,000 people are confined at home or in hotels while a thousand patients are hospitalized, including 158 in the intensive care unit.

200 hospitalizations per day

Health officials estimate that 20% of people infected will need to be hospitalised, this means over 200 hospital admissions daily at the current rate including a fifty in the intensive care unit.

“It is grueling. Sometimes we need to go back in the middle of the night to ensure admissions ( … ), but we are up to our position, ” said to AFP the doctor Giselle Sanchez. As her colleagues who attend the most serious cases, it actually shifts up to twelve hours per day.

In recent weeks, doctors and nurses have protested across the country to demand the medical equipment and health protection.

“There is the fear of the contagion, in this situation, where one puts his life in danger. It is a war usante “, said Mr. Moreno.

Teams are going door-to-door, in the rain or under a blazing sun, to make tests, especially in the areas most affected by the pandemic. The goal set by the president of panama Laurentino Cortizo is to achieve 4000 tests per day in order to be able to identify and isolate the sick.

As Silda Idalia Rios, many were “afraid” to get tested. But the virus “attack us” and ” we must get tested to know if one is tested positive “, is it.

“A significant number of people” who know they are sick yet continue to leave their house, which makes it more difficult to control the pandemic, says the minister of Health Luis Francisco Sucre.

“We depend directly of what people can do or the precautions taken in the street. Really, the population must understand that we will be overwhelmed, ” warns Malena Urrutia, of the coordination of the fight against the sars coronavirus.

“I wish I could tell you that it is in the past. But this is not the case, “said the president, addressing the nation:” We have no vaccine yet, the battle continues “.

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