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Senegal health services overwhelmed by COVID surge

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SEYLLOU/AFP or licensors


Senegal's health services are overwhelmed as a third wave of COVID-19 spreads throughout the country.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Senegal's National SAMU, the emergency paramedic service, has been in charge of registering all COVID-19 cases and organizing the regulation of patients, emergency doctors and treatment centers.

"We have had an influx of calls for respiratory distress. We had a few in the first wave, a few in the second wave, but since the beginning of the third wave, 90% of the calls are for respiratory distress", Dr Abdallah Wade, Head of the SAMU Regulation.

Now there are fewer and fewer hospital beds, and SAMU's emergency doctors are rushed off their feet responding to the influx of suffering patients.

One such patient, Binta Ba, 25, is pregnant and infected with COVID-19.

Given her pregnancy, and the state of her lungs, the SAMU considered her to be a high risk case and transferred her to a Level 3 hospital – a hospital that is highly equipped and provides care for all medical specialties.

Djiba Ba, Binta's father, said that he is angry at those who are spreading disinformation about COVID-19 and those who refuse to be vaccinated.

"I swear to you that COVID-19 is real and that people who refuse to be vaccinated should be punished" he said.

The SAMU regulation team work around the clock and are helped by other emergency services such as firefighters.

Doctor Mouhamed Lamine Dieng said that the current overflow of calls and patients, and subsequent lack of beds, is extremely difficult:

"The main challenge for the regulation team is to find a place at the right time to save a person before they die – that's the main challenge", he said.