El Salvador faces a critical situation due to the alarming expansion of the coronavirus that has put the public health system in check, while the debate continues among politicians about whether a new quarantine is needed to flatten the contagion curve.
Hospitals are on the verge of collapse, there are almost no free beds to care for victims of the deadly virus in the Central American country, hospital authorities warned.
“We have patients who spend a day waiting for a stretcher in the health unit,” Dr. Laura Miranda, who runs the new El Salvador Hospital built to care for patients with the disease, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The government inaugurated the first phase of the hospital, which has all the medical equipment and state-of-the-art technology – 105 beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 285 intermediate care beds – to serve patients with COVID-19.
It is expected that in the next week the second phase of the hospital will be enabled, with another 400 intensive care beds and in the first weeks of August, the last phase will be completed. The hospital will have 1,000 ICU beds and an additional 1,000.
Mirada explained that the new hospital only serves referred patients, in serious or critical condition. “We knew that we did not have the capacity in the rest of the public network hospitals to attend to them,” he assured.
She said that El Salvador’s public health system was “totally deteriorated, with only 24 functional ICU beds in the entire country.”
“It is sad, it is sad, it is complicated, it is a mixture of feelings to see someone you know die in a bed from COVID and its complications and not being able to do anything,” she added.
According to official figures, El Salvador has 9,391 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 254 deaths and 5,516 patients recovered, while of the 3,621 active cases there are 298 in critical condition and 602 serious.
Panama’s hospitals are under threat of collapse due to the explosive growth of COVID-19 cases, with doctors exhausted by strenuous hours, in the Central American country with the most infections by the new coronavirus.
“Our number of infected patients per day has been increasing steadily to over 1,000 cases,” David Villalobos, head of the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Arnulfo Arias Madrid hospital complex in Panama City, told AFP.
“There is no hospital that can sustain such a quantity,” he added after visiting his most critical patients.
With a population of four million inhabitants, Panama has gone from about 200 infections a day to more than 1,100 in recent weeks.
The scenario has forced to readjust hospitals and look for new facilities, such as convention centers, in a public health system with great deficiencies and endless lists.
«The fear of the collapse of the public system in our country is evident if the number of cases is maintained. Probably for the next two weeks we will not have places to lay beds, “Domingo Moreno, the coordinator of the National Negotiating Medical Commission, which groups the medical unions, warned AFP.
As of Thursday (July 9), Panama had 839 deaths and more than 42,000 covid-19 infections, in the worst official records presented by a Central American country.