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Collapsed Ambrosio Grillo Hospital in Santiago de Cuba due to dengue

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SANTIAGO DE CUBA.- “There are beds in the corridors, the mosquito nets are not enough and the only thing there is is serum.” This is the current scenario in the Ambrosio Grillo Surgical Clinical Hospital, which houses cases of dengue in the province of Santiago de Cuba. In a context that places this province as one of those with the highest incidence rate of the virus, together with Havana, Guantánamo, Las Tunas, Matanzas and Mayabeque, as well as the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, according to official sources.

“Imagine the danger of being sick with dengue fever and not being able to be isolated under a mosquito net. So everyone will get infected. I had to spend it like this in Grillo, and that is why I told my family not to come to see me during those days, because I was afraid they would catch it,” a man convalescing from the disease, a resident of the municipality, told CubaNet. Songo La Maya.

This center does not have specialized care for dengue cases. So much so that the few mosquito nets that exist are put up with sticks tied to the beds. This without mentioning what is a constant in Cuban hospitals: the decaying infrastructure and the dirty bathrooms.

On the other hand, due to the high number of admissions, the regular Grillo rooms are also not enough. After the advance of the virus in the eastern province, this center was arranged, above all, to hospitalize patients with serious manifestations of the disease. Therefore, for months, he has been receiving referrals from all over the province, especially from rural areas. One of the most affected Santiago municipalities is precisely Songo La Maya, which reports dozens of cases daily and already records several deaths that have not been recognized by the state media.

“Every day we process more than 200 analyzes of people who present symptoms of the virus. We usually do blood, urine, hemoglobin and blood platelet count tests to know the general condition of the patient and rule out, or not, the serious manifestation of the disease. Today I have already tested 112 people and it is barely four in the afternoon, ”said a laboratory technician from the Carlos J. Finlay polyclinic who did not reveal his identity.

dengue
This is what the bathrooms look like. Author photo

A few days ago Yanelis Lima, a teacher, was referred from the same health area to Grillo. She quickly went to the doctor because she had a fever and a little bleeding, which are some of the alarm symptoms of the virus. For this reason, she was hospitalized for five days and, according to what she told us, “people die there all the time from dengue.”

“I was in a room with a seriously ill patient, with platelets at 60. I knew why they counted us twice a day. They did not remove the serum to hydrate them, but it did not go above 100 for many. It was torture living with people who could literally die at any time, but the therapy rooms are not enough, “said the woman.

It should be noted that, with such low levels of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia), the patient can have excessive bleeding, go into shock and die. This is because the blood clots as it should. Obviously, the lower the platelet count, the greater the risk of bleeding.

For the songomayense doctor Roberto Serrano Delis, the epidemiological situation is at its most critical point. He even confesses to being “amazed by the number of people with severe dengue. Above all, due to the severity of the clinical symptoms and the speed with which the virus is acting.

“Although it is true that dengue is one of the main causes of death in Latin America, serious manifestations are almost never so frequent. It is even said that more or less 80 percent of patients have mild symptoms and a satisfactory recovery. That is why, for me, what is happening now in Cuba is extraordinary”, assured the doctor.

“I fear that other factors, including the poor diet, of course, have greatly weakened the immune system of Cubans, to the point that any viral infection, no matter how simple, can be extremely lethal,” he concluded.

It is worth noting that the diet in Cuba has been much more restricted in the last two years, due to scarcity and high prices. In the case of thrombocytopenia, there are treatments with specific foods such as citrus, fruits and dairy products; which are very effective. However, obtaining these products in today’s Cuba is a luxury that almost no one can afford.

“I know that fruit juices, milk, yogurt, etc., are good for raising platelets, but getting that is impossible for ordinary Cubans. Not all of us have MLC or family abroad. I was hospitalized with dengue and not even in the hospital do they give you any of that. At most, they give you a little piece of beef,” lamented Jesús Palacio, from the Micro 8 neighborhood in Santiago.

Food. Author photo

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