Memoirs of a tracker: "The sixth wave took us to the limit"

Currently the Gran Canaria trackers operate from Infecar. / COVER

Armando Rivero recounts how, in two and a half years, he has gone from trying to cut the transmission of the virus to monitoring its progress in the vulnerable

The life of Armando Rivero, like that of almost all Spaniards, took an unexpected turn in March 2020 when the pandemic broke out.

in those days,
the nurse left his post at the Agaete health center to dedicate himself to following the trail of the new virus, a task in which he is still immersed as tracker and coordinator of the tracking team of the Primary Care Management in Gran Canaria.
This job has changed the way you see the world. "Today is a bad day for us," Rivero said on August 4.

The toilet, linked to Agaete, knows what La Rama means for the assholes and for the island, but
fears that this massive celebration will translate into a resurgence that impacts the most vulnerablethe sector of the population that monopolizes the hours of the 73 trackers who work in the Infecar compound, in the capital of Gran Canaria.

The team became much larger, with 150 trackers among doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, soldiers, midwives, social workers, documentalists, administrative or nursing care technicians. «
Being a nurse I never thought I would work with the military or documentarians. We came from different categories but
we had a single goal; identify potential positives with screening and isolate them to break the chain of transmission» explains Rivero.

That mission has radically changed starting this year, when close contacts were no longer isolated and a gradual relaxation of monitoring of the virus began.

Everything has changed for the better because the epidemic has evolved for the better thanks to the level of immunization achieved with the vaccines and the infection itself. Before the death rate from covid was very high and now the rate is very low. That allows us to lead a normal life,” says Rivero.

However, the change in strategy has been difficult for trackers to assimilate, who,
for almost two years, they had to persecute and denounce the positive ones who skipped the isolationwhile now those infected with mild symptoms can lead a normal life, and even work.

lack of collaboration

"Close contacts had to isolate themselves, first 14 days, and then ten days," Rivero recalls about those days when they had to ask for the collaboration of the police forces to force certain people to respect isolation.

Many complaints were filed in the Canarian and National Police. There was a person who went to the driver's license exam being positive. Many punishable things were detected, ”recalls the tracker.

But, before reaching that point, it was necessary to try to deter offenders. "We had the collaboration of the Local Protection and Accompaniment Unit (UPAL) when we needed to identify positives and explain the rules to them if they did not collaborate," says Rivero.

Luckily, those situations no longer occur. “Currently, non-vulnerable positives or those outside the socio-sanitary fields can lead a normal life, taking extreme precautions.
Previously, positive and suspected cases had to be isolated», recalls a task that, in addition to cutting the transmission, consisted of helping those who had problems isolating themselves.

Complicated isolations

“A social work team cared for older people who couldn't do the shopping or throw the garbage. Also
we helped many positive canaries who had been trapped in other communities and those who ran out of accommodation reservations. Until they had a negative PCR, they could not travel », he recounts.

Noah's arks also prevented contagion. They were lodgings for those who could not make a safe isolation. «
We found small houses where 8 people lived with two infected. We sent the positives to the coffers," Rivero recalls about these enclosures that welcomed positive tourists who had just arrived on the island and who were not allowed to go to a hotel. "They stayed in the middle of nowhere."

most painful moments He experienced them at the beginning of the pandemic, when it was common to follow up on people who could not say their last goodbye to a deceased relative.

“We had complicated calls to those isolated by close contact who had a family member in the ICU. Not being able to see your family member and not knowing how it will evolve is hard », she says.

moments of helplessness

Trackers now identify and track the virus in the settings of people over 60, pregnant and vulnerable.
Each tracker makes about 25 calls a day, but they reached 70. “In the sixth wave we reached our limit. Many cases came out and we couldn't cope. It was a moment of helplessness. We couldn't cut the chain."

Before, you had to ask each positive who they had been with in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms, identify and locate these people, summon them for a test and isolate them for ten days. Now, the vulnerable positives are called, they are indicated the precautionary measures, they are medically assessed and they are told what symptoms they have to watch for and what they should do if they worsen. For those between 60 and 79 years old, a follow-up appointment is arranged, while it is the trackers who monitor the evolution of those over 80 years of age.
"Now it's easier," he says with relief.

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