Dakar, Senegal (AP) – Paramedics receive an emergency call at 10:30 p.m. A 25-year-old woman who is 8 months pregnant and at risk of COVID-19 has severe breathing problems.
Yahya Niane grabs two small bottles of oxygen and heads for the ambulance with the team. Upon arrival, they find the worried father of a young woman waving an envelope in front of her mouth. And a desperate effort to send him more air.
His situation is miserable. Niane says that in order for Slap Ba to save her and her baby, she must immediately have a Caesarean section. But first they have to find a hospital where they can take him.
“All the hospitals in Dakar are full, so finding a place for people with respiratory problems is very difficult,” he says.
This is a very common scenario as Senegal faces a rapid increase in confirmed cases of coronavirus. Instead of motorcycle accidents and heart attacks, the majority of ambulance calls in the capital are now cases of COVID-19.
Dr Abdullah Wade, head of the regulatory department at SAMU, Senegal Emergency Medical Services, said: “There have been several times in the first wave and several times in the second wave, but since the start of the third wave. vague, 90% of the calls were for dyspnea.
In the first year of the pandemic, Senegal has often been cited as a success story in Africa. After quickly closing the border between the airport and the mainland of the country, President Macky Sall made the wearing of a mask compulsory and temporarily suspended travel between the regions.
But the Delta variant changed everything. While 16 million countries have received more than 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines as part of a UN-backed COVAX initiative, demand currently exceeds supply and many are waiting for a second dose.
Hospital beds are also scarce and patients with COVID-19 are debilitated at home while waiting for a place or until their condition worsens.
“Currently there is a flood of phones, a flood of patients and few places available,” said Dr Mouhamed Lamine Dieng, who works in an emergency services management center trying to triage and deploy patients. .
“The main challenge for the team is to find the right place to save people before they die,” he said.
A young pregnant woman, Slap Ba, ultimately won the spot due to a sharp drop in oxygen levels. Doctors estimated that by the time she arrived, 50% of her lungs had been affected by the virus.
The doctor delivered her baby girl in time for a Caesarean section. However, four days later, the mother continues to provide oxygen support in the intensive care unit while hospital workers tend to the newborn.
“Some people thought COVID didn’t exist,” the baby’s grandfather Jiba Ba said.
“It’s because some people deny their presence on social media and TV channels,” he said. “I swear COVID is genuine and anyone who refuses to be vaccinated should be punished. “
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