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Venezuela oil town Maracaibo already in collapse hit hard by Covid-19

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  • Venezuela oil town Maracaibo already in collapse hit hard by Covid-19


    Venezuela oil town Maracaibo already
    in collapse hit hard by Covid-19
    - In Maracaibo public hospital patients vie for only 8 ICU beds
    - Forced to recycle masks, medical staff have stopped showing up

    By Nicolle Yapur, Alex Vasquez/Bloomberg

    Petroleumworld 06 25 2020

    Blood stains on the walls and floors. Cockroaches and rats in hallways. And several dozen Covid-19 patients per ward, but only two nurses and one bathroom.

    Ever since the coronavirus started coursing through Latin America in March, health experts worried what would happen if the pandemic took root in embattled Venezuela. In the hot and humid coastal city of Maracaibo, that day has arrived.

    Interviews with a half-dozen nurses, doctors and public officials in the capital city of Zulia state paint a disturbing picture of a hospital already overwhelmed in the first stages of an outbreak. What's more, Maracaibo's trials offer an ominous glimpse at the fate of health centers throughout the nation. On a continent vastly unprepared to confront the pandemic, nowhere was worse off heading into the crisis than Venezuela, a former oil powerhouse that's now running out of fuel and basic supplies after seven years of economic collapse.

    At Maracaibo's University Hospital in Western Venezuela, over 100 coronavirus patients are awaiting care, according to health workers there, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. There are only eight ICU beds -- although malfunctioning ventilators regularly take one or two spots out of rotation.

    Medical staff described how patients -- some of them lying on dirty floors -- wait two or three days for care. Some collapse before a stretcher becomes available. The health workers talk of x -ray machines that are broken, frequent power outages and bathrooms without running water . One hospital physician said they are seeing people with coronavirus symptoms die each day without ever getting a diagnosis. More are dying at home -- many don't even bother trying to see a doctor now.

    Most of Maracaibo's dead never make it into the nation's official tally because tests have to be shipped 700 kilometers (435 miles) to Caracas for processing, and results can take anywhere from 15 days to a month, the medical workers said...