The Colombian department of Guainía, on the border with Venezuela and Brazil, works rapidly to protect its nearly 44,500 inhabitants, mainly indigenous, from the devastating consequences of the coronvirus that has not yet reached that remote territory, sources in the area said Monday.
The Guainía does not have land routes that connect it to the rest of the country and the 688 kilometers that separate Bogotá from the departmental capital, Inírida, must be covered by plane, isolation that is at the same time an advantage to avoid infection and an obstacle when there is an urgency.
“Today we can say that there are zero positive cases within the department despite the fact that we have two borders with a very high risk, such as Venezuela and Brazil,” said Álvaro Enrique Morales, manager of the Manuel Elkin Patarroyo Hospital, in Inírida.
Brazil, with 22,000 deaths and more than 360,000 confirmed cases, is the second country in the world with the highest number of infected, while Venezuela already has 1,010 patients and maintains the death toll at ten.
Of the 32 departments in Colombia, Guainía, Guaviare and Vichada, all between the Amazon and Orinoquia, are the only ones that do not have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Morales highlighted that since March, when the first case of COVID-19 in Colombia became known, which already has 21,175 infected and 727 deaths, health professionals who work at the local hospital began to visit the residents house by house to explain what It was the coronavirus and how they could be spread.
The community was told that “the most efficient preventive measure is hand washing” and they were taught how to do this process in the best possible way, said the doctor.
PREVENTION AGAINST PANDEMIC
Guainía, which with 72,238 square kilometers is the fifth largest department in Colombia but the second least populated, received the donation of a hospital tent from the Health Provider Company (EPS) Coosalud.
The tent, which has thirteen beds, a first-aid kit and an emergency stretcher, a led lighting system, air conditioning, and a power plant, among other supplies, was a relief for the department where the attention of the health services is precarious.
The installation was made in a space adjacent to the Manuel Elkin Patarroyo hospital and for this it had the logistical support of the Military Forces, the Guainía Government and the Inírida Mayor’s Office.
The department also received 10 oxygen concentrators that have the advantage of being mobile to serve the population that is scattered throughout the jungle territory.
“We need to protect Guainía from the coronavirus. This is one more of the actions that we have been taking to strengthen the health system in this part of the country in which we have 42,000 members, corresponding to 92% of the total population,” explained the manager. from the downtown area of Coosalud EPS, Olga Lucía Jiménez.
The hospital also adapted an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the first in this region that today has seven beds, eight respirators, an electroencephalograph, a diagnostic equipment for organs and another for taking vital signs donated by the Government, the Mayor’s Office, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and a private entity.
All this medical aid “marks a historic beginning for the dignified and quality health of our area,” said the Governor of Guainía, Juan Carlos Iral Gómez.
TESTS IN THE JUNGLE
To continue defending against the disease, Coosalud sent a thousand COVID-19 tests to be used with the most exposed people in Guainía, such as health professionals, river port personnel, 22 members of the Armed Forces, and warehouse and supermarket employees.
Also, 200 tests were sent to San Felipe, a hamlet that borders Venezuela and Brazil.
Of these, at least 40 will be used to serve the inhabitants of La Guadalupe, the easternmost point of Colombia and which borders the Brazilian town of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, where there are indeed cases of coronavirus.