There is no ideal time for a pandemic, but fewer countries are less equipped to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak than crisis-ridden Venezuela, warn doctors and public health experts.
Bed shortages, a lack of isolation areas and short supplies of soap are already a daily reality in most hospitals. Cases of Covid-19 reached 33 in Venezuela on Monday evening, following the first two confirmed cases three days earlier. The government responded with a quarantine in the capital, Caracas, and six other states, alongside travel bans. On Monday the regulation was extended to the whole country.
But the outbreak could hardly come at a worse time for Venezuela, which despite boasting the planet’s largest proven oil reserves remains mired in years-long economic and social turmoil. Hyperinflation is rampant – Venezuela’s central bank said inflation reached nearly 10,000 percent last year – while shortages in basic foodstuffs and medical supplies are routine.
Hospitals regularly face power outages, while basic supplies – from latex gloves to basic antibiotics – are often hard to come by. Four and a half million people have fled Venezuela, with healthcare workers and disease specialists among them. Treatable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and malaria continue to spread in fertile conditions.