SANTIAGO (Reuters) – When most Chilean nurses finish their long shifts caring for the country’s many COVID-19 patients, there is little else on their minds but seeing their families, eating and sleeping.
Not so Damaris Silva, who twice a week when she finishes her shift at 6 p.m. picks up her violin and returns to the ward.
Silva, 26, spends several hours walking the corridors of the Hospital El Pino, in the capital Santiago’s poor southern La Pintana neighbourhood.
She plays a mix of popular Latin songs, bringing a moment of levity for both patients – some of whom have spent weeks in critical care – and exhausted colleagues.
“As soon as I walk in the patients brighten, they seem happier; they smile and applaud,” she told Reuters.
Her aim is, she says, to “give a little bit of love, of faith, of hope with my violin. Every time I do it, I do it from my heart.”
Her initiative is one of several dreamed up to lift spirits in Chilean intensive and critical care wards, which are at present close to saturation because of the new coronavirus pandemic.
Others have included strangers writing letters to patients, medical teams singing Happy Birthday and applauding those who are discharged after winning their fight against COVID-19.
Chile has at present close to 300,000 cases of the virus and more than 6,000 resulting deaths, which started in the capital where the majority of the population is focused but has since spread to more remote, less-well resourced parts of the country.
On Monday, the Chilean health minister referenced “positive indications” due to a sustained decrease in coronavirus infections and positive tests in Santiago and some other big population centres.
The health minister, Enrique Paris, insisted however that strict quarantines would remain in place across a large part of the South American country.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)