Medical brigades going door to door in Bolivia’s most Covid-hit area

Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Jan 5 (EFE).- Some 17 medical brigades on Wednesday were going door to door to test residents for Covid-19 in Santa Cruz, the Bolivian city hit hardest by the pandemic and so far they have detected 6,047 new cases.

In remarks to EFE, the coordinator of the Intercultural Community Family Health program, Zulma Mamani, said that the medical teams are administering nasal antigen tests and that “if the patient tests positive they are given a free kit of medications.”

Mamani said that the brigades have been deployed at strategic sites around Santa Cruz and are proceeding “house by house,” adding that their mission is to provide a “rapid response” to potential coronavirus cases via “early diagnosis.”

The medical kit contains about 10 medications to treat the first symptoms of the disease and prevent early complications, she said.

She also mentioned that “many families” are showing symptoms of the common cold and these cases will be treated as if they were Covid-19 until the coronavirus can be definitively ruled out with further testing.

Local health authorities warned that intensive care units are filled with patients in the advanced stage of Covid and that 21 people of the 34 Covid sufferers who died on Tuesday in Santa Cruz “had not been vaccinated.”

On Tuesday, Bolivia set a new record with 9,242 newly detected daily cases, the highest figure since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and part of an aggressive fourth wave of infections that began in late October.

Although Santa Cruz province a week ago was found to have more than half the new cases nationwide, other provinces such as Cochabamba, Tarija and Chuquisaca have also been equaling or exceeding their previous daily infection highs established in earlier waves.

In the case of Cochabamba, authorities are already talking about “saturation” of the healthcare services after reporting almost 1,000 new infections, and local officials are intending to immediately implement movement restrictions to try and halt the outbreak.

Bolivia has suffered 19,810 fatalities and 631,554 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, with 76,025 currently active cases.

The vaccination campaign that was launched a year ago by stages has managed to provide a total of 10,119,454 doses – first, second and third doses together – as well as immunizing all people over age 5 among its vaccine-eligible population of 10.2 million.

Since Jan. 1, 2022, digital vaccination cards have been required in Bolivia to visit certain public and private locations, a measure that has motivated more people to become vaccinated than might otherwise have elected to do so.

EFE jct-grb/lnm/eat/bp

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