CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan medical personnel face increasing risks of being infected with the coronavirus due to a lack of protective equipment, an opposition legislator and a health-focused non-government organization said on Monday.
The OPEC nation, which has been in quarantine since March 17, is struggling under a hyperinflationary economic crisis that weakened basic services including running water and left many hospitals without basic sanitation.
“In four months of quarantine, hospitals did not receive materials, medical equipment was not repaired, beds were not acquired, ventilators were not installed,” Jose Manuel Olivares, a lawmaker and doctor, said in an online press conference. Health workers have died “for want of a mask ... for want of gloves,” he said, adding that hospitals have “no water, no power, no medicine.”
The country’s opposition-run congress and Doctors United for Venezuela say six doctors died of COVID-19 between June 19 and 28 in the western state of Zulia, which has emerged as a hot spot for COVID-19. Doctors United for Venezuela says a nurse also died of the disease during that period.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Official statistics show 5,297 cases and 44 deaths.
Groups including the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights Watch have expressed doubts about the official figures and the scope of the tests conducted.
Reporting by Vivian Sequera; writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Leslie Adler