Fighting Against COVID-19; Giving Our Best as Field Epidemiologists

Dora Ramirez and Mirian Álvarez de Lezcano

Contributed by Dora Ramirez (graduate of the Paraguay FETP advanced level) and Mirian Álvarez de Lezcano (graduate of the Paraguay FETP Frontline level), who work with the Department of Epidemiology of the Ninth Paraguarí Health Region for the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare of Paraguay. Header photo: Dora and Mirian work in a quarantine shelter (photo courtesy of Dora Ramirez).

"Paraguay has adopted strong measures of social distancing and isolation since March 10 with the resolution of the Ministry of Health to close educational institutions and cease large events. On March 16, the borders were closed. Only nationals repatriated for humanitarian reasons could enter. It was established that they should be quarantined for 14 days in supervised shelters.

The Paraguarí department, 60 kilometers from the country’s capital, set up a shelter within military facilities. On April 28, 49 compatriots returned from southern Argentina, and the regional epidemiological surveillance department was put in charge of their coordination and care. We, former trainees from the Frontline and advanced levels of the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), led the work team, put knowledge into practice, and gave our all for success in these actions.

The 49 returned compatriots were tested for COVID-19, resulting in two positive cases, totally asymptomatic, who were separated from the group. The entire group was monitored daily; we were constantly educating them about social distancing even in the shelter, carrying out temperature controls, and inquiring about the appearance of symptoms. On day eleven of quarantine, the remaining 47 were tested again, all of whom had negative test results. Thus, on May 12, after 15 days of confinement, 47 returnees were able to return to their homes with their families.

A great satisfaction overtook us, with the successful end of confinement and our duties fulfilled, in our first experience with shelters in this fight against COVID-19—and as former students of the FETP. In addition, as trained nurses, we celebrated on May 12 the International Day of Nurses, in whose ranks we began our service to public health."