Guinea-Bissau: Country ‘has ventilators’ for Covid-19 patients; maybe not enough

Guinea-Bissau has ventilators for patients with Covid-19 with serious breathing difficulties but their number may be insufficient for everyone who needs them, Tumane Baldé, a health administrator at the country’s entity to control and combat the pandemic, told Lusa on Monday.

In recent days, information has emerged on social media criticising the authorities’ response to the disease – suggesting, for example, that the Hospital Nacional Simão Mendes, a designated inpatient and treatment centre for patients with Covid-19, has no ventilators.

“There are ventilators, of course; they may not be enough, as is the case in other countries in the world,” said Baldé, a former government minister and one of the officials of the COES (Operational Centre for Health Emergency), which was set up specifically to deal with the pandemic.

Baldé said that none of the 18 patients currently infected needs ventilator support, but if they do, the country will be able to respond. Patients may today be transferred from their residences to the dedicated centre at the Simão Mendes, he added, acknowledging that some have shown “resistance to being transferred”.

A team of psychosocial technicians will be sent to those people’s residences to make them aware of the need to be taken to the hospital, Baldé said.

He also denied reports circulating in the country that there are four foreign nationals infected with the coronavirus in Mansoa, 60 kilometres from Bissau, stressing that only laboratory tests can determine who is or is not infected.

Guinea-Bissau confirmed its first two cases of infection with the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 on 25 March.

The coronavirus has already infected more than 1.2 million people worldwide, of whom more than 68,000 have died of Covid-19. Of cases of infection, more than 238,000 are considered cured.

Since the outbreak began in China in December, it has spread around the world, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic situation.