Sandra Bellver He combines his work nurse at the Bellvitge Hospital in Barcelona with paddle tournaments. The 56th player in the World Padel Tour ranking has had to hang up the shovel to help win the match against the coronavirus, which to this day continues to collapse the hospital. From there he tells us about his daily fight against COVID-19 and how the situation is currently.
Question.- How does it take not to be able to play paddle tennis?
Answer.- At first it was more bearable, but now I have lost count of the days we have been. I take the shovel at home and say ‘my goodness it seems a strange thing’, who would say it to me. I really want to, we are there to start, we do not start … There is desire and more knowing that the neighbors are already on the slopes and that burns you a little more.
Q.- It must be difficult to combine work with tournaments …
R.- It is the most complex part, trying to find a balance with income, with training, being able to travel … It is about gradually fitting together the pieces that fit the most with the theme of schedules and everything so as not to overstep and not affect me a lot in training. The truth is that it is very difficult. It is practically impossible to find that balance. In the end, you do what you can to achieve the best results within the possibilities we have: at an economic and schedule level it is very hard.
Q.- The Spanish Paddle Federation has asked that you can play paddle tennis in phase 2 … do you think it will be possible?
R.- It’s a little complex because we don’t have much data either. It is not like a flu that we have very close at hand, this virus has taken us by surprise and we have many things to know about it. That is why saying what can and what cannot or that the phases of lack of confinement are better or worse is very complex because we do not know the magnitude of the consequences, of everything that will happen, if it leaves sequelae, if the people who are immune can pass it again, if it is still active or it can infect someone. Since we do not have it very close at hand, I would not know how to say yes or no. The only thing I know is that according to the requirements of the Government to pass the phase, at the moment at the UCIS level we do not comply because we continue to have them collapsed. It is true that the income of COVID-19 has dropped a lot, although it still exists, but we continue to have new cases every day.
Q.- What do you think when you see crowds in the streets but you can’t play paddle tennis?
R.- The explanation could be taken because it is a fenced space, quite closed, there is material that you manipulate, the balls, any mistake … whether you like it or not when you are playing it costs a lot and more us who do not have all this mechanized. We play without a mask because it is very uncomfortable and there may be a fluid path even if it is not visible to the naked eye. Besides it is a sport that you move, with which you can keep a distance, but it is not like on the street although there are crowds that should not have … this is a losing battle. What is seen in the streets is not what it should be or is not what is initially established, whether it is fulfilled or not is something else. I imagine that as in sports, if they can regulate it a little more, that’s why they are more cautious.
Q.- Everything indicates that the paddle season will have to end behind closed doors, do you know anything?
R.- The first step will be behind closed doors. I’m practically safe, for everyone’s safety: players, coaches, people who like to watch paddle tennis, etc. Obviously, there are not going to be large events in which many people get together and less in closed spaces such as paddle tennis, which is usually an all-closed pavilion and there are usually quite a few people. The only solution for the season to resume as soon as possible should be behind closed doors at first to see how it goes.
Q.- What is the objective for this season?
R.- The objective for this season has obviously changed with all this, but the first thing of all is to be able to jump on the track and avoid injuries above all. Then try to get into the final draw in all tournaments that can be played in the end.
Q.- We will have to watch the injuries …
R.- You have to be very vigilant. We have been unemployed for many days and you cannot want to run now after so long. All the players, including me, have been doing physics and maintaining our physical training to the best of our ability, but obviously the typical movements of paddle tennis if you are not on a court you cannot do it for many routines you have. What we cannot pretend is if tomorrow we can start training, start competing in 3-4 weeks. We would have to have a time of adaptation for the health of all.
P.- How are things for the hospital?
R.- The situation has improved a lot since the peak we had which completely overflowed us. We had a very bad month. If you are not there you could not imagine it. Now the care pressure and workload has decreased a lot, we have less COVID, we have been able to open plants that were from COVID to what they were before, the specialties. We have been able to open these plants, but still maintaining quite a few COVID patients and in the ICUs unfortunately not much has improved yet. We still have them quite collapsed, there are no beds, we still have them folded and we have not yet returned to our normal number of beds, so we still have work to do there.
Q.- The damn peak …
R.- We already saw it coming, but you’re still not ready for something like that. You can not imagine all the deployment that all hospitals have come to do to be able to give beds to all the people who needed it. And still not get to cover everything. Nobody imagined that at the time and in the century in which we are, something like this could happen, that a pandemic, what we see in the movies, would come true.
Q.- Spain is the country with the most infections among healthcare personnel …
R.- It is true that there have been many infections as a result of starting the tests, and those that remain to be done, a large number of infected health personnel. At the end of the day we are on the front line, the contact is daily, there are many hours, a lot of prevention that until COVID has not come we did not have it and the virus was already walking among us. Obviously, health personnel are on the front line, so they are exposed.
Q.- Have they been sold?
R.- This is a lifelong battle. The health personnel have always had the feeling that they are releasing us to the lions. Here it has been seen again worldwide and despite the lack of material you have to face that virus whatever you have and you reinvent yourself. This is not a specific thing, it is something that is in our day to day and we are always struggling, inventing with what you have, the cuts … It is very hard. Many times you notice that you do not have that reward. It seems that you give everything and every time they take more from you. Now we are well, we have everything. But the most cutting-edge weeks I have to say that the material was a little scarce for everything we had. I understand that it is a global crisis and that these things are difficult to manage, but obviously there is the result of so many infected toilets.
Q.- They have been slow to test the toilets …
R.- Now all health personnel have access and serologies must be done, which is by blood. Until now we only had PCR and those were only done to staff with symptoms. If you had no symptoms, it was not in the protocol that you had to do the PCR, and once they had acquired the serological tests, which we did not have until now, then they have started to mobilize the issue of tests. In my case, since I had not had any symptoms or anything, I had not had access to the PCR.
Q.- Do you think that with more tests the situation would have been different?
R.- It is clear that massive tests to prevent the spread of the virus are important. It has to be done as a prevention campaign and to be able to quarantine any person who tests positive until they stop testing positive, which is when they are contagious. Being able to reduce and locate that affected population gives you a lot of information about the virus and would have helped us not to spread as much. It is the same as always, the resource at that time was not for what could not be done and we did not have access to it.
Q.- How do you assess the government’s management with the material crisis?
R.- Managing a pandemic must be very difficult and I cannot judge anyone. For the part that affects us, I think that health personnel should be the first to have access to all this material. I don’t know if it could have been done better or worse, but I imagine, I wish and I believe that they have done everything they could or believed better according to the possibilities they had. If I consider that, with a little view, you could have started managing everything earlier when everything started in China because at the level of spread it had you could expect it to happen. You could have acted with prevention, not waiting until we had everything on us to act, but starting to act a little earlier. I speak from ignorance because I know that it is a complicated, atypical situation and we will never know if we could have acted better or worse because I hope it will not be repeated in years.
Q.- There is a certain fear of a regrowth, what is being said by the hospital?
R.- In the hospital we will not fall twice into the same mistake and we will not allow ourselves to be caught off guard. Yes, a regrowth is valued. We are all warned and we have the fly behind the ear that it is quite likely that there may be a rebound. We are prepared, but really on a psychological level, if there is a rebound, it will take a lot of its toll on the health personnel. We have been through a lot of stress and tension these days and to live again, to see how the same thing happens again would be a pretty hard blow. I hope that it remains only in words and that there is really no such regrowth.
Q.- They say that until there is a vaccine we will not win the match.
R.- The theme of the virus is that it spreads very easily and we have nothing to stop it. I think the heat slows it down a bit and that is why it is expected to regrow last summer, around the end of September-October. A vaccine takes a long time to be made. I know that all the laboratories and researchers are running a race against time to get a vaccine, but it is not something that will be achieved overnight. That is why until we have something against the virus that stops it, the option of having rebounds must be considered.