The department reached the record number of deaths yesterday, with 54 deaths. In addition, there are 163 patients in therapy. They closed 27 vaccination centers due to lack of doses and as of today only six work. Antigen tests sell out in a week

Santa Cruz, Bolivia‘s largest city, is experiencing the worst moment of the coronavirus pandemic and finds the population mired in despair due to the lack of oxygen and therapy beds, while vaccines and antigen tests are about to run out.

Santa Cruz yesterday reached the record number of daily deaths so far in the pandemic, with 54 deaths. Although in the records there is a report of 57 deaths on August 29, 2020, that figure was an accumulated of several days.

In addition, yesterday the 1,000 infections were again exceeded and for the first time so far in the third wave, 163 people were registered in intensive care and 40 of the 56 municipalities reported infections.

The country also registered high death figures yesterday, reaching 115 deaths and Cochabamba reached 1,025 infections in one day.

«The situation is alarming, as we had announced we are reaching the peak of this third wave,» said the manager of Epidemiology of the Departmental Health Service (Headquarters), Carlos Hurtado, reporting on the harsh impact of the third wave in the department Cruceño, which translates into full intensive therapies and deaths.

The health authority also warned that the doses that were distributed to the different vaccination points will be exhausted until Friday, forcing the immunization points in the capital of Santa Cruz to be reduced from 33 to only 6.

Added to this is the alert made by the Mayor’s Health Secretary, Roberto Vargas, who indicated that the 28,200 nasal antigen tests that were delivered to health centers and mega-centers will last until next week.

“We are on the way to a health disaster. We ask for the support of the national government ”, expressed the president of the Departmental Medical College, Wilfredo Anzoátegui, referring to the epidemiological situation and the drama that the population is going through.

For his part, the Headquarters director, Erwin Viruez, confirmed that due to the lack of vaccines, 27 of the 33 that had been operating in different parts of the city will be closed. “Tomorrow (for today) only six positions will be enabled because we are in a situation that will depend on the arrival of vaccines within the schedule of the Ministry of Health and vaccination will be reduced to six centers to guarantee access to the population, ”said Viruez, indicating that the policy of importing vaccines is a government responsibility and that it responds to international demand for doses.

The authorized centers are the Gabriel René Moreno Autonomous University (Uagrm), the Fexpocruz, the D-10 Integral Center, the Evangelical University, the San Isidro educational module and the Claudina Thevenet educational module.

Meanwhile, the Government announced that the arrival of new doses to the country is expected in mid-June.

The Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Benjamin Blanco, confirmed that this month one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine will arrive in the country and another 100,000 of the Sputnik V vaccine are expected.

“The Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed the prioritization of one million vaccines for Bolivia. These vaccines would be arriving the third week of June. We hope that the first 100,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine will be transported in the next few days, ”the official told the media.

Wait for oxygen

Amid the explosion of cases, despair over oxygen shortages grows. The sale of this medicinal gas is limited to only one cylinder per person, so when they get it they have to return to the line because a patient usually requires up to seven a day.

There are people who wait up to a day for a cylinder. This is the case of Mijael Jiménez, who yesterday was looking for oxygen for his mother affected by the coronavirus.

“Since Monday I have been in line for oxygen for my mother. I’m going to leave this tank and have to go back for another. This is because there are queues and there are people queuing to resell it, which is not fair, ”the man claimed.

“I have been there since 5:00 and I estimate that I will get the tubes I need until tomorrow noon, my family member uses three a day. So I’ll start over until I get all three, ”says Gary Zambrana, who has his 55-year-old brother-in-law sick.

This family organized itself to attend to the needs of the sick; some are looking for drugs and others are waiting for cylinders.

Herbert Arias is looking for oxygen for his relative hospitalized in Yapacaní and yesterday he denounced that while he was waiting in line, from a vehicle a person offered him a tube at Bs 1,700. “Since yesterday we are looking for oxygen for my family member, who requires three cylinders with gas per day. Now these people come to offer these tanks like this. It is impotence, it cannot be that people try to take advantage of that way ”, denounced Arias, while explaining that he has been in line since Monday night.

He says that «to buy a cylinder they ask for a prescription or make a video call to the sick family member or the treating doctor to rule out that they are resellers.»

In the middle of the long line of vehicles there is a young man on foot, each who advances the line, hugs his cylinder and walks a few steps.

There are also emergency vehicles waiting. From an ambulance they explain that they seek to supply the demand of the internees and hope that they will deliver at least seven cylinders.

“If the Mayor’s Office or the Headquarters do not come to monitor the sale, we are going to block it. We will not pass up. So many people who are losing their family and where are those who must regulate. There are people with limited resources ”, claimed another man.

The Secretary of Human Development of the Santa Cruz Government, Fernando Pacheco, reported that several tons of oxygen are expected to arrive at the department this weekend, which are being imported from Brazil by an oxygen supplier, although he did not specify the amount.

Pacheco said that the steps to facilitate imports were followed by the Bolivian Foreign Ministry and asked Customs to expedite the procedures required in these cases so that the medicinal gas can arrive in the expected time.

Regarding oxygen, the Deputy Minister of Health Insurance, Alejandra Hidalgo, indicated that the national government is carrying out parallel efforts before Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to specify the hospitalization of medicinal oxygen.

The health authority indicated that it seeks to guarantee the supply of this input in the face of the growing demand in public hospitals in the country.

Likewise, Hidalgo said that the arrival of 320 tons of oxygen from Brazil was recently completed.

«This amount of medicinal oxygen will enter, according to the management carried out by our president Luis Arce, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Brazil, and in the following hours more information will be given in this regard,» said the vice minister, who arrived yesterday Tarija to deliver medicines and supplies for patients with Covid-19, for an amount of Bs 8.2 million.

The National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) of Brazil released the export of 320 tons of medicinal oxygen to Bolivia for humanitarian reasons.

Hidalgo pointed out that the Government does not neglect the supply and yesterday 82 tons of the input arrived from Chile that will be delivered to La Paz, Oruro and Tarija. However, the medicinal gas will last for four days.

The Vice Minister of Consumer Defense, Jorge Silva, explained that, so far, the Foreign Ministry helped manage 410 tons of oxygen, which have already arrived from Chile; 30 from Argentina that will be shipped these days and 320 that closed with Brazil.

Mayor announces a plant

For his part, the mayor of the city, Jhonny Fernández, arrived yesterday at the Praxair company, which provides oxygen to first, second and third level establishments, and after a meeting with the management indicated that the company is prioritizing supply from medicinal gas to health establishments, so this is guaranteed for the public system.

«For all the beds that we have in the hospitals (the provision) is guaranteed for this week and for the next,» said the mayor. This plant produces seven tons of oxygen, which supplies medical gas to the city’s hospitals.

Fernández indicated that the Mayor’s Office is also making an effort to install its own oxygen plant as soon as possible and for this a public tender has been launched. Interested companies have until today to present their proposals. The plant that the Mayor’s Office intends to install has a capacity of between 540 and 600 cubic meters, which covers the need of public centers, which is 240 cubic meters, said the mayor.

New municipal measures

On the other hand, for today the meeting of the Municipal Emergency Operations Centers (COEM) of the capital of Santa Cruz and the neighboring municipalities is set to define the measures that will govern from this Sunday the 6th to Saturday the 12th of June.

Until Saturday, the municipal decree that allows circulation from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Vargas announced that this Corpus Christi holiday circulation will be maintained as a regular day and the diagnostic points will also work.

According to the evaluation in the situation room of the Santa Cruz municipality, the largest number of coronavirus patients is between the range of 19 to 39 years of age.

Since the second week of May, after the increase in cases of coronavirus in the Santa Cruz department, the capital city has established restrictions.

Author: Leyla Mendieta From El Deber