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Venezuela worried of mass spread

International 27 Mar, 2020 Follow News

Nicolas Maduro demonstrates face mask wearing

Venezuela has at least 70 cases of the coronavirus, increasing anxiety in a crisis-stricken country where the healthcare system lacks infrastructure and resources to treat basic diseases.

"We are facing an unknown disease, without knowing what the behaviour will be in our country," said Dr Oscar Noguera, an internist and director of Ancora Humanistas, a nongovernmental organisation in Venezuela.

"Health personnel are already complaining about the lack of adequate clothing for their protection, while the increased emigration of doctors and nurses has left our hospitals in a vulnerable condition. The number of intensive care beds available in the country is barely close to 80."

In an attempt to contain the outbreak, President Nicolas Maduro imposed a nationwide quarantine and restricted travel between states. "We are preparing for the most dire situation we've ever faced before," Maduro said on state television. "All of the country will enter a quarantine. It is indispensable and necessary, and it is the answer."

But such measures have done little to quell the anxiety that comes with the coronavirus.

The president also encouraged people to wear face masks, even if it meant improvising them, and he banned people from boarding the metro or taking trains without one.

Analysts warned that the quarantine is not a feasible option for a lot of people, as many operate in the informal economy.

"The quarantine poses a dilemma between producing and surviving or guarding and protecting yourself," Carlos Pina, a Venezuelan political analyst, said.

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