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17 Mar 2020 | 09:23 PM UTC

Venezuela: Government implements social quarantine measures nationwide due to COVID-19 March 17 /update 1

Venezuelan President implements “social quarantine” for all 23 states and capital Caracas on March 17 due to COVID-19; further spread of the virus expected

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Event

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that all 23 states and the capital Caracas will enter "social quarantine" starting from 05:00 (local time) on Tuesday, March 17, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. To prevent further spread of the virus, all activities will be suspended except for food, health, transport, and security services. From Wednesday, March 18, Venezuela's Caracas metro and other rail systems will close and only provide services for workers from prioritized sectors, such as food, health, transport, media, and public services. Such individuals will be required to show identification prior to taking public transport.

Additionally, the Defense Minister announced on Monday, March 16, that the country's police force has been ordered to ensure that public compliance with the latest quarantine measures. According to media reports, security forces are preventing food produce trucks from transiting between regions. 

As of March 17, authorities have confirmed 33 cases of COVID-19 in Venezuela. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.