When Cuban Yoan Gil and his wife Claudia Guzman were treated for COVID-19 at separate places for nearly a month, it was the most torturing separation they have ever experienced.
Gil, who lives in Havana’s Boyeros district and has survived severe COVID-19 illness, has urged people to take additional precautionary measures as Cuba on Wednesday reported a record daily increase of 550 COVID-19 infections.
Like him, thousands of people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus on the island have shared their stories to raise public awareness about the importance of self-protection and preparedness in the fight against the contagious disease.
The 43-year-old, who works for a hotel construction company, has spent 22 days in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine on the outskirts of Cuba’s capital Havana, where a COVID-19 hospital was set up by the government.
Gil contracted the virus after coming into close contact with a workmate. He had no fever, dry cough or tiredness when he was hospitalized but felt “full of energy” instead.
However, two hours later, “things started to change” when he was transferred to an ICU for intubation as his health deteriorated.
“I was dying but did not know,” he said. “My lungs and kidneys almost collapsed and there was a moment when only my heart worked.”
On top of that, he was in a medically induced coma for eight days while coping with a life-threatening condition, when doctors told his relatives to prepare for the worst.
“I was face to face with death, but the Cuban doctors saved my life,” he said.
Earlier this week, Cuba received a donation of 38 ventilators from China that will help Cuba reinforce work at ICUs as the Caribbean nation has reported more than 3,900 new COVID-19 cases so far in January.
Since the onset of the pandemic on the island in March last year, 506 COVID-19 patients have been admitted to the country’s ICU, with 29 of them still being hospitalized currently, according to data from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.
People in close contact with Gil were taken to hospitals and isolation centers for monitoring and medical treatment.
Gil’s wife, Guzman, also tested positive. Having only mild symptoms, she was rushed to Luis Soto Diaz Central Military Hospital where she stayed for two weeks.
“It has been the worst experience I have ever been through,” said the 26-year-old, who works at a state commercial office. “I was worried about myself and feared for my husband’s life.”
She said that contrary to what many people believe, the novel coronavirus is not “a normal flu” but a “very dangerous disease.”
To date, Cuba has reported 16,044 COVID-19 cases and 158 related deaths.
A total of 12,478 Cuban COVID-19 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals, including Gil and his wife, who reunited at their house after 28 days of separation.
Francisco Duran, national director of epidemiology at the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, urged people to comply with safety guidelines and social distancing measures to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
“This disease is highly contagious and there is a large percentage of asymptomatic carriers, which makes people more vulnerable to getting infected with COVID-19,” he said. Enditem