From the moment the coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in China and it was learned that it was expanding through several countries of the world, Venezuela activated the National Preparedness and Response Committee “of the international health office”, as stated at the time by the Minister for Health, Carlos Alvarado.
The senior official clarified that this protocol is related to the international emergency decree issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has to do with the identification of possible carriers in international airports, as well as in all ports and airports in the country.
Also, Alvarado announced that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) delivered a strain diagnostic kit for the coronavirus to the Ministry.
#SabiasQue El Coronavirus se presenta como una gripe común en el 85% de los casos con estornudos, malestar general, tos y aumento de la temperatura corporal con una duración de 3 a 5 días. Si presentas alguno de estos síntomas acude al centro de salud más cercano. pic.twitter.com/xH8iPfU8ke
— MPPS (@MPPSalud) February 26, 2020
Venezuelan Ministry of Health has launched a twitter campaign with information about this serious health crisis that has shown signs in recent days of being spread more rapidly internationally.
Today, neighboring Brazil’s health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, said that they had confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 virus in the country, diagnosing a 61-year-old man in Sao Paulo who returned from Italy recently. Media outlets report 20 more possible cases being monitored by Brazilian authorities.
At the beginning of February, Minister Alvarado confirmed that in Venezuela there have been no cases of coronavirus infection, a situation that remains the same at the end of this month.
Informo a la población que el sistema de vigilancia epidemiológica de Venezuela está activo y no ha reportado ningún caso de Coronavirus. Hemos activado, siguiendo recomendaciones de la @opsoms, el sistema de vigilancia epidemiológica en puertos, aeropuertos y personal de salud. pic.twitter.com/3iq21qTtCh
— Carlos Humberto Alvarado González (@AlvaradoC_MPPS) January 24, 2020
“To date there is no confirmed case in Venezuela or Latin America,” in reference to the new acute respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus, he said at that time.
In this regard, Alvarado indicated that the preventive measures issued by the WHO due to “the emergency declaration” are still active.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES IMPLEMENTED
Venezuela has been one of the first countries in South America to activate mechanisms to prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) from entering the country at all costs, for which Minister Carlos Alvarado cited the recommendations implemented in the national territory:
- Activation of the National Preparatory Committee for the possible entry of the coronavirus in Venezuela and the appropriate response of the country
- Installation of the International Health Office in Venezuela
- Reactivation and strengthening of the Epidemiological Surveillance System in the Venezuelan care network and in the National Reference Laboratory (Rafael Rangel National Institute of Hygiene).
- Activation of entry control protocols at Maiquetía International Airport, and with the collaboration of the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (Inac) identifies people with symptoms and asks them to fill out a form in which they must specify which countries they have been in before entering Venezuela.
- Deployment of personnel of the Ministry of Health trained to receive the forms, analyze them, follow up, diagnose and administer treatment if required. The mechanism will be activated additionally in all ports and airports of the country.
Recent statistics have shown a higher mortality of coronavirus related cases in Iran and experts point to US illegal sanctions as one key element affecting the Persian country in its response.
Venezuela have been severely affected in recent years by US sanctions affecting governmental acquisition of medical supplies and medicines. Several years of economic crisis affecting the health care infrastructure will add to this dangerous cocktail.
Experts say that explains why Venezuelan authorities have taken preventive measures in advance. But ordinary Venezuelans are afraid of the catastrophic effects that an outbreak in Venezuela might have on the already impacted inhabitants of this country.