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Montevideo, August 4th 2020 - 18:00 UTC

 

 

Venezuelan cases of the “Colombian virus”, accelerate at a rate of 30% every week

Thursday, July 16th 2020 - 07:22 UTC
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Venezuelan hospitals suffer from constant blackouts, lack of running water, and chronic shortages of basic supplies, claim human rights groups and health workers Venezuelan hospitals suffer from constant blackouts, lack of running water, and chronic shortages of basic supplies, claim human rights groups and health workers
Maduro and members of his cabinet have talked about the “Colombian virus” and claimed it is a more aggressive strain, without citing supporting medical evidence Maduro and members of his cabinet have talked about the “Colombian virus” and claimed it is a more aggressive strain, without citing supporting medical evidence

Coronavirus cases in Venezuela have jumped in recent weeks and two top lieutenants of President Nicolas Maduro have tested positive, triggering warnings from health workers that the pandemic may overwhelm the country's already battered healthcare system.

Venezuela's case count began to accelerate last month and is rising by more than 30% every week, according to Dr. Julio Castro, part of a medical advisory team working with opposition leader Juan Guaido.

President Nicolas Maduro says his government has handled the pandemic better than neighboring nations, noting its 10,010 cases - a figure disputed by the opposition - are a fraction of those in Colombia and Brazil.

But the recent spike in the case count - which now includes Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami - signals that Venezuela's precarious health system will be tested by the pandemic.

The country's hospitals already suffer from constant blackouts, lack of running water, and chronic shortages of basic supplies, according to human rights groups and health workers.

The government has done nothing to address these problems since declaring a strict quarantine in early March, said Jose Manuel Olivares, a doctor and legislator who is also part of Guaido's health advisory team.

”The government ... did not buy ventilators. It did not improve the hospitals. It did not repair x-ray (machines). It did not do what needed to be done,“ he said in a telephone interview.

Venezuela's roughly 300 public hospitals have 23,000 beds ready to receive patients, according to official figures. Health worker groups say 12 doctors and two nurses have died from COVID-19, and a lack of protective equipment was raising infection risks for other medical personnel.

Maduro attributes the increased infection rate to the return of Venezuelan migrants from neighboring countries, saying it was a sign that Colombia and Brazil have mismanaged the pandemic.

Maduro and members of his cabinet have talked about the ”Colombian virus“ and claimed it is a more aggressive strain, without citing supporting medical evidence. They have claimed that this, in part, explains the situation in the border state of Zulia, which has emerged as a hot spot for the disease.

Some doctors in Guaido's medical advisory team dispute the idea of a Colombia strain of the virus, and say the Zulia outbreak has been driven largely by a breakdown of basic services such as power and water.

Maduro and members of his cabinet have talked about the ”Colombian virus” and claimed it is a more aggressive strain, without citing supporting medical evidence. They have claimed that this, in part, explains the situation in the border state of Zulia, which has emerged as a hot spot for the disease.

Tags: Juan Guaido.

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