In El Salvador, a family decimated by the coronavirus

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“The world is infested,” laments Raquel Barrera, a 28-year-old Salvadoran whose two parents died of Covid-19, like three of her brothers, in less than two months.

“In my family, there were five deaths in a short time. And it was hard to lose them like that, ”she told AFP, in her village of Ojo de Agua, 45 kilometers from the capital San Salvador.

The virus has spread to 23 family members, including children and pregnant women, who live in three houses surrounded by fruit trees and fields of sugar cane, beans and corn.

The patriarch, Felix Barrera, 80, was the first to succumb on May 28. Two days later, his wife Lucia, mother of 11 children, died at the age of 69.

Then it was the turn of Jesus, a 52-year-old nurse, Joaquin Antonio, 42, and Carlos Humberto, 40.

Characteristic symptoms

The parents died at their home, while the three brothers died in the hospital where they had been admitted with the characteristic symptoms of the disease.

“When I heard about this virus, I never thought that something like this was going to happen for the family,” explains Raquel, surrounded by her sister Luz and her stepmother Rebeca.

“God helped us by giving us strength because it is a great pain. Losing a person hurts. And now there are five … I don’t know where we got so much strength from, ”exclaims Rebeca, Joaquin Antonio’s widow.

Rebeca is now alone with her five children, José David, 21, Joel Antonio, 15, Rebeca Abigail, 14, Herson Samuel, 9, and Rut Elizabeth, 4.

For only inheritance, the widow keeps the tin hut where her family lives, as well as a cart and two oxen.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do it, I must try to continue for my children. Sending them to school is going to be difficult. But even if it’s doing laundry for others, I have to continue, ”she continues, crying.


“We have been discriminated against by everyone,” complains Raquel. “They didn’t even want to sell us corn cakes,” after the whole neighborhood was told the family was infected.

Raquel accuses the authorities of having ordered them to remain confined, without helping them.

“They left us locked up. And it was only after Jesus died that the town hall helped us to do five tests. We had to choose between us who was going to do the test, when we were all at risk, ”says Raquel.

Two of the five family members tested tested positive.

For lack of medication, the family took care of themselves “with ginger tea, lemon, herbal teas and red onion confit in honey”, explains Raquel: “it relieved our pain in the throat and in the chest” .

In El Salvador, out of 6.4 million inhabitants, nearly 400 people have died from Covid-19 and nearly 14,000 have been infected.

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