15 dead and 143 people sick of COVID19 in a nursing home in El Salvador



Out of the 220 older adults in the Sara Zaldívar nursing home, which is part of the care centers of the Salvadoran Institute for Comprehensive Rehabilitation (ISRI), 111 have been infected with Covid-19. This number represents 50% of the older adult population. In addition, 32 center employees have tested positive for Covid-19. “The situation in the Sara Asylum got out of control due to the negligence of the authorities, because the appropriate measures were never taken from the beginning“, a nursing home employee, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed to Radio YSUCA.

According to the ISRI blog, to which YSUCA had access, on May 21, the first patient died in the Unit for Injuries and Spinal Cord Diseases (ULAM), a unit within the nursing home. The patient was diagnosed with “atypical pneumonia.” The corpse was transferred to the Morgue of the Saldaña hospital by personnel from the 132 Emergency System, under the COVID-19 corpse management protocol, although the nursing home staff never knew the result of the test.

As of June 8, 15 older adults had died. A day earlier, on orders from the Health Minister Francisco Alabí, the infected elderly who remained in the centers were transferred to the Rosales hospital and the Saldaña hospital.


The first positive case was detected on April 20 by a nursing coordinator, so it was decided to send 15 workers who had contact with him to a quarantine center for 15 days. Currently, staff who have been infected are: 22 workers from the nursing area, 2 doctors doing their social year, one caretaker, 2 workers from the kitchen area, 4 from the Psychiatry Unit and one from the clinical equipment area.

The authorities have tried to deal with the situation with secrecy and this has caused more contagions,” said the employee, adding that when the first cases arose, the protocols were not implemented and “in fact, we did not have the appropriate equipment to serving older adults, meaning a mask, glasses and N95 mask“.




The employee also assured that despite the positive cases, protocols were not followed to avoid contagion, “for example, older adults at breakfast, lunch and dinner were taken to a single dining room. In a single dining room there could have been up to four people eating at one table at the same time. All those practices that led to overcrowding had to have been suspended, the food had to have been taken to the patients’ beds and support them there”.

In addition, the employees of the Sara Zaldivar nursing home, who were suspected of having Covid-19, were not allowed to remain under quarantine. They were told there was not enough staff to provide care. They were even sent to an elderly center located in front of the San Rafael hospital, risking healthy older adults. On Monday night, 7 more elders were transferred to hospitals because they were showing symptoms.

On Sunday, June 7, Health Minister Francisco Alabí, in a press conference, said that 3 users of the ISRI senior care centers had died.

The minister’s data is far from the real information handled by the ISRI centers according to the Sara Zaldivar employee, because “every week we have to mourn the death of one of these older adults“.

The questions that are still hanging around are: Who is at the forefront of this pandemic in the country? What role Venezuelan doctors are playing among which there were veterinarians?

Access to public information and accountability is vital in times of crisis, when citizens need to be certain of how the authorities are managing funds and what plans exist to counter the pandemic.


* Bukele’s tweet

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