The adventure of swabbing in Bahía Blanca

Hernán Guercio / [email protected]

“At 11 we cut the queue. He who is not there for that time, will not be able to swab himself ”.

Six rapid testing centers are currently operating in Bahía Blanca: one in the Sanitary Region, two dependent on the municipality and a fourth that operates within the framework of the Health collective. There is also a fifth, which only works on Saturdays and Sundays in the port, and a sixth dependent on IOMA and only for affiliates.

In quick numbers, each of these places analyzes daily – from Monday to Friday – about 150 people, without a shift and in order of arrival, some from 8.30 and others from 9. The closing time is between 12 and 12.30 -Región Sanitaria, in D’Orbigny at 2,500, does it until 6:00 p.m.-, although sometimes it is warned that at a certain moment, no more people are accepted in line.

This often arouses the anger of those who are waiting. The claims, of course, are towards the staff who are doing the swabs and they end up generating crosses that, until now and except for some cases that ended up being promoted on the networks, have not reached greater.

“We are also people,” says the medical staff. “And what are we?”, Those who wait.

Reality shows that a person who today wants to swab in Bahía Blanca has few ways to access the free testing, not in terms of accessibility, but rather in terms of the possibilities of doing it: the process itself does not take more than 3 o 4 minutes and the results are – at most – in 15.

The problem, then, is waiting.

“If you want to swab yourself, you have to come queue at 6 in the morning,” laments a woman in the mid-morning sun in Bravard at 1,700.

He had already passed through the Cono Sur center, in the first block of Caronti, and the line reached Estomba and continued along that block for a good distance, so he preferred to venture to the Sanitary Unit of Pampa Central at 900.

The decision does not seem to have been the correct one: the line ends up being even longer, going through the entire block of Chancay and Pampa Central, and turning towards Bravard. And he wasn’t the only person who risked trying his luck elsewhere.

“Only one person per household will be swabbed,” warn posters and staff. This is not always reflected in the lines: men and women with children waiting for who knows what time, some keeping social distancing, others less than a meter away, the vast majority leaning against the wall of a house or against a tree; some sit directly on the floor. Those who foresaw what could happen, brought a bottle of water; shaded spaces are the most sought after.

Not everyone has COVID, of course; some want to be tested just “just in case”, something that the authorities repeat ad nauseam not to do. Many did not even wait the recommended 48 hours of symptoms to attend, but some are not seen in good condition. Coughs, sneezes, people with tired, irritated or congested eyes. The faces of “more than keep waiting, I can not do anything” are those that populate those endless lines.

“Where does the queue end? You have to go around the corner, and maybe the other one ”, answers a young boy, wearing black glasses and a mask. The mask, at least, is in widespread use and almost everyone has it on correctly. Almost every.

Many, directly get tired and leave … without swabbing.

Meanwhile, at the entrance to each of these centers there is another agglomeration. They are the ones who waited and were able to swab themselves, who are waiting to be told what happened and often mix with those who are about to enter.

From time to time someone from the medical staff comes out to report results and there is practically assaulted by questions and complaints from those who have just arrived and are frightened by the length of the line. Not everyone consults in a good way and not everyone answers correctly. The heat, the almost two years of pandemic, the probable waiting time, the situation, fear, fatigue and the ways of own and strangers end up affecting everyone.

“I tested positive … what do I do?”, Some question. Isolation of seven days from the beginning of symptoms, plus another three of care is the answer. The information for monitoring will be provided by the Health system. In recent days, in the city’s testing centers, approximately 50% of swabs tested positive, a percentage that has been growing: yesterday, without going any further, it was 60%.

“Today, the Southern Cone center is overwhelmed. We have a lot of isolated personnel – they assure “The new one.”From the municipality, in reference to those who carry out the tests-. We hire more people to supply, but they drop like flies ”.

Regarding the number of daily tests that are carried out, it was indicated that the idea is only to swab symptomatic patients who are not close contact of a declared positive. Therefore, and within the framework of the new isolation and case confirmation measures, the number of centers should reach.

“Many times, we end up swabbing more people than expected. We set 150 as a limit to mark a daily cut ”, he explains.

Sometimes, it seems that it is not enough.

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