Photo: América Economía, retrieved.
- The Presidential Commission of Experts appointed by Juan Guaidó warned about the increase of COVID-19 cases in Venezuela and the health system’s incapacity to provide medical attention. Doctor Julio Castro summarized our sanitary and malnutrition conditions and warned: “In our country, the consequences can be deeper than those we’ve seen in more organized countries like Italy and Spain.” To understand the magnitude of the situation, we must understand the standard length of a pandemic in the world, which is two to three months, the time in which the number of cases grows, then stabilizes and then decreases. He said Venezuela could have anywhere between 300,000 to 350,000 cases in three months, if the attack is even 10% of what’s expected. In 20% of the cases, patients will require admission in collapsed health centers that don’t have enough ICU beds available. The Commission will publish a document with the projection of cases and a series of recommendations to face the emergency.
- Nicolás confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19 in Venezuela, for a total of 91: three in Lara, one in Caracas, one in Los Roques, one in Miranda and one in Guárico. So far, he said, there have been no deaths. 47 patients are men and 44 women. He added that 15 people have recovered, even though that’s not possible considering how many days have gone by. He recommended doing prayer circles with leaders of various religions, a drink that was later removed from his Twitter account and for health professionals to not become “prophets of disaster.” He condemned acts of “terrorism and conspiracy (…) orchestrated from Colombia.”
- The regime’s minister of industry, Tareck El Aissami, assured the nation from the Miraflores palace that Venezuela is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and that the measures imposed by Nicolás will allow us to survive this economic catastrophe (!). He parroted the measures announced by Nicolás verbatim and praised them. He said that in March, over 9 million people have received two bonuses (he didn’t mention of how much) and that they started paying the Stay Home bonus on Tuesday. He said they have a plan to guarantee supply of the CLAP program until August and announced suspension of taxes, fees and payments on imports in the pharma and agro industrial sectors.
- The National Assembly developed a plan for the public health sector for confirmed and potential COVID-19 cases, and for prioritizing areas of attention while the pandemic lasts, designed by the mixed commission appointed for this time. It has 13 main recommendations and five additional items that will require support from institutions like the WHO, PAHO and IADB, explained Guaidó. Some of the requirements are:
- Supplying personal protection equipment for health workers and IDKH emergency supplies for health centers;
- Restructuring health personnel distribution for serious cases and basic triage;
- Increasing ventilation capacity by ten times the existing one;
- Rescuing ICU and anesthetic spaces and establishing a safe respiratory chord for all hospitals;
- Establishing a national monitoring system on acute respiratory infections with daily reports, guaranteeing basic treatment for at least 10 to 15% of critical condition patients and a system of external hospitals for managing fever in outpatient clinics.
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that sanctions on countries like Iran, Cuba or Venezuela should be flexibilized during the pandemic. She said “it’s necessary to make broad and pragmatic exceptions for humanitarian reasons (…) and agreeing on flexible and quick authorizations in order to obtain essential medical supplies and equipment.”
- Journalist Sebastiana Barráez said that Tomás Bello, mayor of the Montes municipality, in Sucre state, northwestern Venezuela, ordered stores not to sell supplies to people over 50, from food to prepaid cell phone credit. Bello sent the militia to stores to supervise the order.
- Journalist Darvinson Rojas was illegally taken to court, said the SNTP. He was accused of promoting hate and enticement. He’s been kidnapped by FAES for three days and he’s in jail because he reported about coronavirus.
- NGO Espacio Público condemned that Beatriz Rodríguez, director of newspaper La Verdad Vargas, was subpoenaed to the Public Ministry to testify about an IVSS nurse getting COVID-19, which the newspaper reported on March 23rd.
- Caraota Digital journalist Rosalí Hernández was detained by FAES because she reported about deep cleaning the streets of Catia, in Western Caracas, and was released after she deleted the footage. She’s been detained three times in the last few weeks.
- Dairy Industry Chamber president Roger Figueroa warned that Nicolás’s measures can make the sector’s situation worse, since they are already facing fuel shortage which makes distribution harder. Domestic production has dropped by 50% during the quarantine.
- Venezuela will close two thirds of 62 gas stations in Caracas as part of the measures to restrict services during the quarantine, according to a PDVSA document. Only 20 gas stations will remain open to provide priority service. No chavista spokesperson has addressed this crucial topic.
- Henrique Capriles Radonski argued in favor of an agreement between chavismo and the opposition to face the pandemic with foreign financing. The government has internal control but the opposition has the international recognition and “there’s no possible solution during this pandemic and situation without international financing.” He asked Nicolás and the opposition to focus on the citizens.
There are over 421,000 cases of coronavirus in the world, over 2.6 billion people under quarantine and the Unesco reported that almost 80% of the world’s student population isn’t going to school: 1,370 billion students. The Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021. This hadn’t happened since WWII. Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will lift their quarantine on April 8th, after two months of confinement.