COVID-19 or dengue?

By Safie M. Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES – I often listen to the daily briefing that’s broadcast at 9 AM. It gives us an update about the current situation of the pandemic in our country. TV news shows talk about research, isolation centers and medical assistance for patients suspected of having COVID and testing positive.

Until now, I hadn’t had the misfortune of knowing a suspected or positive case amongst my closest circle or family. But it finally happened, and when you have a close experience of something it’s always very different. I would like to share my brother’s story in this article, who hasn’t been feeling well for some days now.

He is 23 years old and he woke up with a headache and a slight fever last week. He went straight to a health clinic, accompanied by my father. The doctor checked him over. Then he sent him off to be admitted, as any patient presenting a fever must be admitted. The doctor explained he probably wasn’t feeling well because of dengue or zika. However, he said the admission into an isolation center is the current protocol.

This happened at around 5 PM, and the vehicle responsible for picking up “suspected COVID-19” patients, was informed. My brother was there waiting, along with two others, until the transport arrived at 9:35 PM. The three of them were taken to an isolation center and he was put in a cubicle alone. The following day, he was given a COVID-19 test and nothing else. Two other people were admitted into his cubicle on that day.

After 5 days in the center, he finally found out that he had tested negative and he was sent home. But we still don’t know whether my brother has dengue or zika. Today, he was given a “platelet count” at our doctor’s. He is droopy, he’s lost weight and has a huge rash.

We all know taking care of COVID-19 patients is a priority across the globe. But does that mean that other diseases, which are also debilitating and dangerous, have to wait? It makes me wonder how much truth and efficiency there really is in the news broadcast every day?

Read more diary posts from Safie M. González

3 thoughts on “COVID-19 or dengue?

  • Safie, me alegro por ti y tu familia de que tu hermano no tenga COVID-19. Sí, Gracias a Dios.

    Continúe con su redacción informativa y cuéntenos qué está pasando en la Cuba real. Es posible que una respuesta externa no alivie su situación, pero al menos puede compartir sus dificultades y aliviar un poco el estrés.


  • Gracias por sus palabras, Stephen. Mi hermano se recupera ya en casa. Ni siquiera hoy tenemos la confirmación de lo que realmente tuvo, pero, obviamente y gracias a Dios, no fue COVID. Probablemente haya sido Zika o Dengue. Tomamos medidas en casa, y afortunadamente se va recuperando. Un saludo.

  • “We all know taking care of COVID-19 patients is a priority across the globe. But does that mean that other diseases, which are also debilitating and dangerous, have to wait?”

    Safie, we know Cuban citizens do not receive unadulterated news from outside Cuba. Rest assured that even here in Canada the waiting lists for patients having to undergo surgery is exceedingly exasperating and long. Many patients have had their surgeries post-poned because of COVID-19, even cancer patients.

    Many family members of patients in waiting have complained to the news media and local medical authorities about their dire predicaments. Unfortunately, in all medical emergencies health officials including doctors, must make life and death decisions as to who has top priority to receive medical attention first. Obviously, the family of the patient put on the waiting list will be upset but the medical authorities must have a macro perspective in their health care decisions.

    You are referring to two deadly diseases, namely Zika and Dengue which are common in Cuba. In Canada, fortunately, we do not have such diseases in the population. These two diseases certainly are as you state dangerous to human health and sometimes deadly. They are not to be trivialized.

    This writing is not to discount your very serious concern about your brother’s illness, but to provide an answer to your question. Again, simply rest assured that it is not only Cuban health authorities whom are giving COVID-19 patients and/or potential pandemic patients top priority so that any other illness is seemed to be portrayed as second nature. Zika nor Dengue are certainly not second nature; however, like here in Canada, the Cuban health authorities must prioritize its health care structure.

    Regarding your state news broadcasts, that is something that you and your compatriot Cubans only know too well whether the information broadcast is reliable based on historical reliability.

    This will not alleviate your worries about your brother’s illness. I hope he is able to recover quickly from his illness symptoms.

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