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Fontilles is a small walled town, hidden in the mountains, in the natural area of the Vall de Laguar, in the province of Alicante. The ‘garden of Eden’ is home to a private foundation that opened in 1909. In the 1950s was inhabited by 450 leprosy patients, whereas today, just twelve patients remain there, with the condition eradicated in Spain, only around ten or twelve new cases are diagnosed each year, and can be cured.
A facility for treating leprosy needed plenty of ventilation, and a good supply of water, making Fontilles the perfect location, where slowly the small town was transformed into the complex it is today, with pavilions for men and women, rooms for married couples, a Jesuit church, a bar, a farm, plus a theatre.
There is also a nursing home with a rehabilitation hospital for post-operative patients, with chronic or terminal pathologies, and the complex also houses a dozen former leprosy patients, and a laboratory specialising in this bacterial infection, with the local authorities arranging placement for the elderly, and risk groups, normally having between 110 and 125 residents at any one time.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has not been a single case of coronavirus in any of the residents in the Alicante sanatorium, and no deaths. The residency’s professionals are proud of this statistic.
The Fontilles foundation is very active in India, a country where annually, 70 per cent of the world’s total cases of leprosy cases are detected.
CEO of Fontilles, José Manuel Amorós, says that the current situation in India regarding Covid could result in an increase of other diseases including dengue, chagas, and of course leprosy, ‘because all active campaigns to detect patients have had to stop.
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