In overwhelmed hospitals, patients “die without realizing it”

The situation seems to be getting more and more out of control. The number of Covid-19 cases is exploding in Tunisia and with it the number of hospitalized patients. Due to the lack of staff and places, hospitals and morgues are starting to be overwhelmed. Thus, the Ibn Jazzar hospital in the confined region of Kairouan (center) has had such an influx of patients that “some of them die without realizing it”, deplores a nurse, Imen Fteiti.

Bodies remained in the rooms for up to twenty-four hours, for lack of personnel to take them to an already full morgue. Mohamed Misaroui, a resident of Kairouan, says he left his wife in the hospital with her sick mother “because she is not independent and there are no nurses, so what to do? “.

“We no longer know who to help first”

Tunisia has recorded an unprecedented number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic a year and a half ago, bringing the toll to more than 15,000 deaths for 12 million inhabitants, and more than 600 people are currently in intensive care. The official number of total cases exceeds 445,000. The field hospitals set up in recent months are no longer sufficient: 92% of resuscitation beds in the public are currently occupied and those in the capital are full.

Faced with this wave assimilated to a “tsunami”, the authorities confined six governorates where the rate of spread of the virus is particularly high, including Kairouan. Doctors, nurses and NGOs have sounded the alarm in Kairouan. “There is a lack of oxygen devices, and we have reached a stage where we no longer know who to help first,” regrets Imen Fteiti.

Children among the dead

Daily oxygen consumption has reached a level of 5,500 liters per day, up from 400 to 500 before the start of the new peak two weeks ago, according to the regional health administration in Kairouan. The daily number of deaths has reached 20 including children in Kairouan, where the streets are almost deserted, the souks and shops closed. “The situation was very delicate, and the intensive care beds saturated”, recognizes the regional director of health, Mohamed Rouiss.

At the Ibn Jazzar establishment, there are three nurses for 35 people with Covid-19. “We start early in the morning and we don’t know when we finish,” says Imen Fteiti. His day begins with the sick lying on the floor in the corridors, failing to find a bed. Troubled, she remains marked by a young girl who begged her to take charge of her father because she had just lost her mother from Covid-19. “Unfortunately he is dead” too.

“Carelessness and non-compliance with the rules of physical distancing”

For Slah Soui, resuscitator at the second largest hospital in Kairouan, the “Aghlabids”, the disastrous health situation is explained by “recklessness and non-compliance with the rules of physical distancing” but also by “a level too low. vaccination ”.

Shortage of doses, lack of awareness: out of 593,000 inhabitants of Kairouan, only 95,000 are registered to be vaccinated, half of whom have had at least one dose. Nationwide, 575,000 people have had two doses… about 4% of the population.

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