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The coronavirus took away, in just five days, the most important people in his life. Paulina Carvajal she lost her parents, her husband and one of her brothers barely able to understand what was happening around him. The Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, where he lives, was being devastated by the virus. Your home too.

At 39, the same ones with which her husband died, Carvajal is perhaps the most dramatic case in the emotional and humanitarian earthquake who lived the so-called “Pearl of the Pacific” in the second half of March and the first of April, with thousands of infections and deaths, even today not quantified.

“The coronavirus we all had it here at home, but the most affected were my husband, who died on the 25th with my father, and my mother, who died on the 30th with my brother, “this journalist recalls with resignation in an interview almost two months after her family tragedy.

Five days of Calvary

The Calvary of this Guayaquil, who has two younger daughters, began the morning of March 23, when her husband Michael González, a diabetic, began to feel that he was short of breath.

The couple waited until dawn to go to one of the saturated health centers, While the pandemic was brewing with the city and it had one of the highest rates of infection per capita in the world.

After visiting two dispensaries, her husband finally received intravenous serum to control their blood sugar level and eventually they went home. Everything was apparently fine until, hours later, González showed symptoms again.

“We went back to the place where they had treated him, but they told us there was nothing else they could do and that should look for a clinic to intern him, but everything was collapsed. Nobody wanted to receive it! “, Carvajal remembers about those hard moments.

“It was horrible, I never imagined something like that”

After several hours he found a center where they gave him some oxygenOr and they sent him back to his home, but the scenario was repeated at dawn and it was not until the afternoon of March 24 when he was admitted to a hospital.

“When my husband attended to him it was already bad, had almost no (vital) signs, it was maddening. He only asked for oxygen and there was nowhere, “he regrets.

Meanwhile, Paulina received a call from his brother to inform him that his father, Manuel Carvajal, 77, had also been admitted with respiratory problems. At the hospital they diagnosed him that 90% of his lungs were disabled by the virus. The next day, they both passed away. “It was horrible, I never imagined something like that.”

In case the duel had not been enough, after a few days his brother Marco, 51, and his mother Eduviges Ruiz, of 71, began to show symptoms of Covid-19 and died, too, soon after.

Live by and for your daughters

Since Ecuador decreed a state of health exception on March 16, the province of Guayas, of which Guayaquil is the capital, has led the official ranking of infections and deaths, to which they have since joined hundreds of probable deaths derived from the disease.

Through PCR tests (the fast ones do not enter the provincial statistics), Guayaquil concentrates 35% of the 35,300 cases of contagion accounted for on a national scale.

Paulina believes that she and her sister, also infected, they are alive “by a miracle”, and that they were saved by following the advice of their other three sisters: not approaching any clinic and staying at home, a decision that led to high expenses on medicine and oxygen.

Guayaquil don’t know how they got infectedBut he suspects that it could happen in the family business: “We have always been very close and we saw each other all the time. We think it could have been there.”

Looking back, she remembers how the pain caused by mourning, added to her own illness, made her falter. Because the coronavirus did not allow him to pass the initial duel: every time he cried, his body responded worse.

“If I had not had my daughters, perhaps I would not have fought for my life and, frankly, I would have let God take me,” she confesses. It was hard everything that was happening to meBut I had to calm down and be with them, raise them. “

Network pressure

His case quickly jumped to social networks and the media, achieving that, in those days of scarcity, the Ministry of Health will perform the tests to confirm his illness.

“I feel that people were moved by everything we had been through and knowing that my sister and I were infected, they started asking for other things for us, “explains Carvajal, who even went on to publicly request that they stop sending food.

“I feel very grateful for the love from many people I don’t know, but who follow me on my networks and leave me nice messages of support. “He has received messages even from other Latin American countries.

Social pressure on the internet also served to save another family in Quito who was able to access tests and food thanks to the spread of their case: they were 20 infected of all ages, but the pandemic had not hit them as hard as the Carvajal, and they survived.

Duel with union and faith

When she remembers those days, Paulina believes that, beyond the hospital and funeral collapse that was front page worldwide, the main problem in Guayaquil was that many neighbors did not dimension the magnitude of the pandemic.

“Many people did not raise awareness and kept going out and meeting. Maybe, because (they) didn’t have anything wrong, they thought – regrets – that (everything) was a lie. “

And despite the tragic experience, both she and her family prefer to keep a low profile and live your duel in peace, union and faith.

“I think an ordinary human being couldn’t bear so much pain He assures. I feel that it is God, that a supernatural power has to be on me to help me in all this. “

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