MARACAIBO, Venezuela — In a hospital in Venezuela’s western city of Maracaibo, chronic water shortages have left staff using paint buckets as toilets. With medical gloves in short supply, workers use the same pair on multiple patients.
Years of recession, hyperinflation and underinvestment in public services have left Venezuela in poor condition to confront any cases of the coronavirus.
Its hospitals suffer from chronic shortages of medicine and supplies as well as frequent lapses in electricity and running water.
So far, Latin America has been spared the worst ravages of the virus. About 100 cases have been reported in the region since Brazil announced the first case on Feb. 26. But with neighbouring Colombia confirming its first case last week, it is only a matter of time before the virus reaches Venezuela, officials say.
The Pan American Health Organization said last week it is prioritizing Haiti, Venezuela and a handful of other countries that have “more challenges to their health systems.” Hania Salazar, president of
Maracaibo’s nursing school, said hospital workers have been without supplies for years.