They knew it was a risk but they decided to face it all together. The illusion to complete the trip that they had been planning for a long time and at one point they believed lost, was stronger. Today almost everyone is infected, isolated and away from their families and friends. And they count the days to get back together and start the new phase of their lives, most of them away from home.
In Pigüe, the issue of the 43 high school students from Lasalle school and the mother who went to Bariloche and returned with Covid 19 is the most talked about among the population of more than 15,000 inhabitants of this town in the south of the Province. In social networks, many point them out for “Bring the virus to town” or use public resources and facilities to examine them.
The parents of the group, including several doctors, are sure of how they acted and explained to Clarion each of the steps of the graduates’ journey that, under the bubble system, their children were able to carry out. “Hopefully all those who returned to Pigüe would do what they are doing,” says Alberto Cotarello, director of the municipal hospital and father of an infected girl.
He was one of the skeptics when October passed, the original date of the trip, and it had not been specified. Shortly after, the Surland travel company that they hired two years ago in Bahía Blanca called them to a couple of meetings in which they began to discuss the conditions for graduates to travel, after authorization from the government.
“We knew it was going to be difficult for them not to come back with a positive, but we did everything thinking about taking care of them and taking care of ourselves”Cotarello explains. He recalled that they were initially asked for only two weeks of isolation before leaving, scheduled for January 4. At the time of the New Year, the government of Río Negro surprised them with the demand for negative PCR or rapid tests.
“Something that they did not ask of anyone else,” remarks the doctor, regarding the requirement that the trip took two days. With the money reserved for the graduation party for the two courses, Economics and Natural Sciences, which could not be held, they bought reagents and the boys took the test before leaving.
“We test them in the municipal hospital, with all the precautions, the parents present and the health personnel, but without demanding an extra effort from anyone,” Cotarello clarifies. The 46 tests, 44 to Lasalle students, a student from Niño Jesús school and the mother who traveled as a companion, they gave negative and they informed the company in Bahía Blanca.
For the return, they had booked tests and agreed to preventive isolation, which is not required by protocol. “We never imagined that almost everyone infected was going to go through it,” acknowledges the professional, from a farm where he had to move, so that his daughter and three companions remain isolated in their home in the urban area of Pigüe.
While the young people were in Bariloche, everything was joy and happiness. And a lot of control. “The order was terrible. I’ve never seen him. Take temperature and alcohol before and after each excursion, on the buses and at night in the clubs. This way they were able to do all the planned activities ”, highlights Marina Trujillo, the mother who traveled as a group companion.
A little because of the fatigue of each of the eight days and another as a precaution, most of them missed breakfasts at the hotel, where all the staff wore chinstraps permanently. “At all times we felt protected, even when we went to buy chocolate,” says Marina from her home where she is isolated with her 18-year-old daughter and a partner.
Hours before the return, Cotarello’s daughter called him to tell him that four companions had the virus and another did not feel odors. The five returned last Saturday in a bus with another 22 infected, among students and coordinators, from schools in Bahía Blanca. The rest did so in other buses, where only 2 or 3 young people manifested any symptoms, throughout the trip that they endured much of sleeping.
When they arrived in Pigüe, some parents had left their cars with the key in place, so that their children could go directly to the hospital without bathing. One of them was Cotarello, in charge of carrying out the swabs there, which shed light on the general contagion status of the contingent.
“We divided them into batches of five and the first one was all positive. ‘They all have it’, we told each other right away ”, the professional reviews about the impression that the medical team immediately had. He theorizes that the only two boys who did not test positive have also contracted the virus. The 44 cases represent almost half of the active patients in the town.
“It is a controlled damage in patients who do not have any risk, or significant previous pathologies, nor are they going to infect anyone,” he remarks about the group’s state of health, monitored daily by doctors, including some parents. Like Javier Crozes, who contributes that some “have symptoms, because they are smokers. There are some asthmatics, but they are fine and without major shocks ”.
From the municipality of Saavedra they agreed with Health Region One to report the 44 cases of the conglomerate, separated from the rest of the infections in the party, where until Thursday they totaled 488. “The boys had no contact with anyone and are isolated as planned. They do not generate any danger for the district, ”said Dr. Julieta Arduin, from the Saavedrense Medical Association, at a press conference to refute the comments and fears that circulated around the town.
To the “bad wave”, the Lasalle group responds with the same methodology they used to travel, the bubble. “We try to stay active, cooking, tidying up,” describes Trujillo about the daily isolation routine at her home. The only contact with the outside is when they go out to the terrace.
“As in the entire return trip, which was joyous, I try to convey tranquility to them. We know that we take all sanitary measures, both they and adults. This virus is unpredictable and you can find it wherever you go. We have to learn to live with him in the best possible way”Says the mother.
Know that once this stage is over, must prepare for a new distancing. In February her daughter will settle in Bahía Blanca to study Speech Therapy and the companion who is isolated with her at home, will go to Buenos Aires to study Design. “Most of the group leaves Pigüe,” he warns.
Above contagion, some mild discomfort and now the required distance, places the emotions captured during the trip. “It was a tough year for all of us, with many mixed emotions. At school were days of loss and they wanted to close a stage. That’s why when they enabled the trips, many were excited. I’m never going to forget those faces that wouldn’t stop crying, ”he recalls.
She says she feels “proud” of the promotion that she accompanied by “the love and respect” that both courses from the same school have and how strengthened they returned. “After six long years, the last one with virtually no contact between them, this trip was their pending account. We couldn’t have done it any other way ”, Cotarello adds.
Next Monday, the first five infected will end their isolation. The rest will have their turn between Thursday and Saturday. “Los del Rojo”, as they are called by the color of their graduated divers, cannot wait for those days to come to meet again, hug or, if necessary, greet each other from one side of the road to the other. Everything is a matter of time, from Cronos, the name that identifies them as a group.
White Bay. Correspondent