By Dave Torres
KUWAIT: A 45-year-old woman placed a call using the emergency hotline 112 for an ambulance at around 7 pm, as she was shivering with very high fever. The person on the line asked for her details, which she provided. She is a Filipina, working as a saleslady in a shopping center in Farwaniya.
Her flat-mates suspected she might be infected with COVID-19. “I helped her contact the ambulance, but they said we have to wait,” said Roland, one of her flat-mates. “We were all afraid because she was shivering, had high fever and cough. The patient is also a cancer survivor – her left breast has been removed, so we were really concerned. Her immune system could be very weak and she really needed medical attention,” Roland told Kuwait Times.
Hours passed, but no ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital. Another call was placed to the same number to remind them that a person with high fever was patiently waiting. But no ambulance arrived until morning.
The person with high fever has been living in a family flat in Farwaniya. The flat has two huge rooms subdivided into several rooms. One room with a bathroom is occupied by a family. Another room is sub-divided into two rooms. The living room is also divided into rooms. The woman with high fever lives with another woman working in the same company.
In the flat, there’s a person with a car, but the car owner did not want to take her to the hospital as she said it’s risky, since they suspected she could be a COVID-19 carrier. “I didn’t want to take a chance because I have kids with me – COVID-19 can be transmitted by droplets or through the air, so I said wait for the ambulance. I have to protect my kids,” the flat-mate with the car said.
During the 24-hour curfew, private cars cannot roam around except if they have an appointment at grocery stores. Taxis and other public transportation have been suspended. So the only transportation during emergencies is through ambulances.
On the second day, they called the ambulance again to remind them about the woman with high fever. However, they were told the patient should wait as most of their ambulances are overwhelmed with calls from people. “Out of concern of the situation and in order to avoid COVID-19, I asked a friend living in Salmiya to take my kids with them,” she said.
After three days, the woman with high fever was brought by a friend to Amiri Hospital. She wasn’t treated as a COVID-19 patient. She was x-rayed and was advised to return home and told to rest. But now the flat has two more people with the same symptoms. “They’ve been treating themselves with traditional methods since they are now afraid to go to the doctor or the hospital,” a flat-mate told Kuwait Times.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident in Farwaniya, a patient’s blood sugar level dropped considerably, bringing complete numbness to her body. They also called the ambulance, but no ambulance was available. “They just told us to wait, but it didn’t arrive, until a friend with a private car came and took her to the nearest clinic,” her flatmate told Kuwait Times. The delays by ambulances are apparently due to Kuwaiti citizens arriving from various countries during the last part of April and first week of May.
By Dave Torres