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A COVID-19 Update from Dr. Lidia

Today, we share with you a COVID-19 update from our clinic doctor, Dr. Lidia Balán. We are grateful to our medical and clinic support staff, who, over a year and a half since the start of the pandemic, continue to serve patients during this difficult and unprecedented time.

By Dr. Lidia Balán

Throughout the country, the situation of the pandemic due to COVID-19 is critical. The health system is at more than 100% capacity, and with new variants of the virus that have increased contagion levels up to 26% and a vaccination rate that is very slow, we are entering a very difficult phase. 

This third wave of cases in Guatemala began between March and April; we are currently experiencing a surge of cases that is increasing every day. Comparing figures from a month ago, on July 27, 2021, across Guatemala there were on average 2,639 confirmed cases every 24 hours and now on August 27, 2,021 there are an average of 4,804 confirmed cases every 24 hours—the figures have doubled in just one month.

Focusing specifically on the municipality of San Andrés Semetabaj, the situation is extremely concerning. On July 27, 2021 there were 19 active cases and now on August 27, there are 111 active cases, predominantly patients between 21 and 30 years old. In Mission Guatemala's clinic, over the past 15 days we have treated over 22 patients who have tested positive for the COVId-19, compared to treating an average of 1 or 2 cases per week previously.

In reality, the numbers of confirmed cases published by the Ministry of Health are not exact, since there are many cases that are not included in this count because people do not want to be tested so as not to be registered. This can be for various reasons, sometimes because they do not believe the disease exists, other times because they do not trust the public health system, and others because they fear being transferred to and then dying in a hospital. They prefer instead to stay at home and die without anyone knowing. In short, there are multiple factors that keep the true count from being known. 

Regarding vaccinations, as of today, August 27, the Guatemala Ministry of Health reports that 1,036,180 people have been completely vaccinated with the two doses of the vaccine, and 3,187,866 people have received one dose. With Guatemala having a population of 16,346,950 according to the 2018 census by the National Institute of Statistics, this means that we are very behind in vaccination rates. This is due both to the government's slow process in acquiring vaccines as well as to people being afraid to get vaccinated due to lack of information, among others.

So far the Mission Guatemala team, thank God, remains strong, doing "all the good that we can" and helping the population of San Andrés and the surrounding areas. As Covid cases rise, many people from the area who are suffering come seeking care, especially because the medicines that the the Ministry of Health provides them are insufficient. In addition, the San Andrés government health center has only nurses to examine patients, but no doctor, and though the nurses are doing their best, it is difficult because the patients' situations are becoming more complicated and there are too many patients for the few personnel that exist. 

We are extremely grateful for your support which allows Mission Guatemala to continue to serve so many people, especially during this current health and economic crisis that we are experiencing. Many people in the communities do not have a steady job to provide the resources for their basic daily needs, much less to be able to go to a private clinic or hospital or to pay for all the medicines they need, many of which are scarce and very expensive.

Thank you so much to each one! We will continue to update you on the situation, and we will keep working hard every day so that more lives can be saved. A hug and blessings!!