Wife of First Person to Die from COVID-19 in Belize Speaks Out
Last night, Sunday, April 5, Maria Estella, wife of 55-year-old Hubert Pipersburgh of San Ignacio (Belize’s first COVID-19 related death), took to Facebook to share her family’s ordeal. She says based on their experience Belize is not ready to handle this pandemic.
She wrote on here Facebook page:
“Esteemed family and friends and general public, I am sharing my story, so you know of our experience and not by rumors spread around by third parties. This is my declaration.
March 21st: My husband showed the first symptoms with sore throat and dry cough. He was like that in the days to follow with highs and lows but stable.
March 26th: He started to get high fevers with 103 degrees and with problems breathing, pain and cough.
March 27th: Seeing that the symptoms did not improve, I decided to call Dr. Manzanero since I know him personally and asked for him to please do a test on him. After asking me various questions, Dr. Manzanero told me that Hubert did no qualify to have tests done. I was surprised as the symptoms pointed to this not being a simple infection.
March 29th: I took him to La Loma Luz and was seen by Dr. Camal and was only given medication for fever and respiratory issues.
March 30th: I took him to Godoy's Clinic for another opinion since the fever and the respiratory problems continued. After some exams we were home.
March 31st: We went back to the same clinic to get more test. At the parking lot Hubert was in a crisis, he could not breathe, and I thought he was having a heart attack. The doctor recommended that we take him to Belmopan to get some X-rays done on his lungs.
He arrived at Belmopan with pneumonia and there was no one to attend to us or who was willing too since he was already a suspected case of Convid-19. During the night he finally got the test for Convid-19. We were told that the test was going to be given the next day. He was placed in an area outside the hospital that is there for emergencies and given IV fluids and oxygen due to difficulties in breathing. It does not even have a bathroom. Imagine a patient with pneumonia that has to walk outside at 3:00 a.m. to search for a toilet.
April 1st: We spent the day in the same situation, without anyone telling us what was happening and without proper care.
April 2nd: I started to really become anxious and upset since the results were not ready and no one was telling me what was happening. I had to call various politicians to see who helped me. Minister Pablo Marin reached Thursday and I complaint to him about the results and he promised that at seven in the night, these would be ready. The results never came.
April 3rd: At 1:30 a.m. I received a call from Dr. Manzanero informing me that the results of the Coronavirus test that was given to Hubert was positive. From that moment forward, throughout the entire morning we were treated with great indifference and little care by the personnel of the hospital, they saw us as delinquents and my husband stopped receiving any attention with relation to his sickness. That entire morning no one did anything for the health of my husband. I pressured my contacts for him to be transferred to Belize City and thanks to Dr. Hidalgo he was finally moved to intensive care at KHMH and he arrived already in a critical state.
- Saturday 4th of April, my husband fights for his life and his prognostic is not good.
- Sunday 5th of April, my husband passes away.
What if Dr. Manzanero had conceded for a test to be done on him on Friday the 27th? Maybe he would have received treatment and would be safe. How can he make such a decision when someone has the majority of the symptoms. Just because he had not been in touch with other patients? Because he had not travelled recently? The questions asked were more about who he had been with and not how he is doing, what were the symptoms. He can't be so naive to deal with the situation as per contact of the first three cases, we do not know exactly how many of us are walking around without symptoms as yet.
We said HERE WE ARE, HE IS SICK and no one paid us mind. We asked for test and they refused, why? To hide that the virus is spreading? Do we have little test? Why did they not close the boarders earlier? Why wait until we had the first case?
Western Regional is not ready to handle any incoming patients, their staff is not ready!!
They ask me how did he get infected, if he had no contact with the first patients? Well let me tell you when the first case was announced, a lot of people left the island in the precise moment it was being announced as people were scared. When they closed it was too late.
Now my husband is no longer with us and we ask for respect as we grief. I make this public since the people that are supposedly handling this pandemic in Belize, have demonstrated to being incapable to do so. They have to act with urgency and none was shown, that is the difference between people surviving this virus or not. He was the first serious case and could not get the attention he required. God forbid it gets out of hand but how will they react when they have 5, 10, 15, 100 people in need of care; will they also need to call to get them transferred to KHMH?
They have already shown that we are not ready.
I also want to express through this medium that my son Karl and Micheal and myself have all been tested and results were negative.”
==============================Protocols Following First COVID-19 Death
The Government of Belize has been made aware of the social media post by the wife of the late Mr. Hubert Pipersburgh in which she recounts her experience while seeking care for her husband. The nation is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Pipersburgh, a beloved Belizean, both at home and abroad. The Government reiterates its deepest condolences to his wife, Ms. Maria Estella Recinos and their family as expressed last night by the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow.
The Government assures the Pipersburgh and Recinos family and the public that all complaints and criticisms regarding COVID-19 in Belize are taken very seriously. Especially concerning is the experience Mr. Pipersburgh’s family recounts.
Ms. Recinos’ report and any information that can assist in ensuring that Belize’s response demonstrates respect and care for citizens are welcome and appreciated. Consequently, an investigation of the public health response and medical care given to Mr. Pipersburgh as recounted by Ms. Recinos has already begun.
Rest assured that the Ministry of Health has a team of highly trained experts and is being further strengthened by doctors and nurses, who are also experts in their own fields, and international partners. This will tremendously increase mapping, testing and diagnostic capacity. The Government has recently received more test kits, ventilators and other gear, and more are on the way.
The Government and the Ministry of Health are working around the clock to provide the best medical care and facilities for COVID-19 patients. As the Prime Minister recently expressed, “The front line of the Ministry of Health has been strengthened by the recently arrived Cuban medical brigade.” The Prime Minister also advised that a technical committee comprising non-government medical personnel, both doctors and nurses, is being formed to assist the Director of Health Services and his team to map out and guide our national response.
The public is asked to cooperate in following the guidelines and regulations put forth by the Government of Belize to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Belize:
(i) practice social distancing,
(ii) wash or sanitize hands regularly,
(iii) stay at home unless you have an emergency, and
(iv) observe the stipulations of the state of emergency.
All Belizeans are called upon to act responsibly and with kindness for all as the country goes through this unprecedented and difficult time together.