Hospitals in Tijuana are struggling to care for coronavirus patients as the city’s medical system nears the breaking point, officials say.
Baja California Health Minister Alonso Pérez Rico described a desperate situation in which for every 10 patients who recover enough to leave the hospital, 12 more will test positive and one of those will need to be put on a ventilator. Resources are simply stretched too thin.
“We have 10 ventilators at our disposal for all the hospitals in Tijuana,” Pérez said. “We’re trying to bring as many as we can get from neighboring communities such as Mexicali and Ensenada.”
Crowds of people gather at hospitals around the state’s capital, some hoping for news of sick family members and others who are symptomatic and seeking treatment.
The newspaper El Universal reported that a man named Juan showed up for screening at Hospital 20 complaining of a fever, body ache and a relentless cough. After a six-hour wait, medical staff screened him from a distance of about 4 meters, pointing a laser thermometer at his forehead which registered a fever of 39 C.
However, Juan was sent home with a prescription for Tylenol. Since then, his wife and sister in law have fallen ill.
Elsewhere in the city the scene is equally grim. At Hospital 1, which has the most number of beds for coronavirus patients, dozens of people wait outside hoping to be seen by doctors. Some hold their heads in their hands while others sleep on the ground, huddling together under blankets to keep warm.
The city is considered an epicenter for the virus in Mexico, and the morbidity rate is high; some estimates place it at 15% compared to 3.5% in San Diego, only a few kiilometers away.
Just 175 beds remain available to treat coronavirus patients, which officials warn may be completely full by the weekend.
Yesterday alone saw 123 new confirmed cases and 37 deaths. Currently, the city of 2.14 million has a total of 557 coronavirus cases and has recorded 86 deaths.