Venezuela orders 'collective quarantine' in response to coronavirus

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday ordered businesses to close and citizens to remain in their homes in six states and the capital of Caracas starting on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Exceptions to the plan he called “collective quarantine” include transport, health and food delivery, Maduro said, adding that the total number of confirmed cases rose to 17 from 10.

“There is no other option,” he said in a televised comments. “We either go into quarantine or the pandemic could brutally and tragically bring down our country.”

The economically struggling nation on Friday confirmed its first two cases of the virus amid concerns it is unprepared to confront a pandemic that is spreading rapidly around the globe.

Hospitals in Venezuela have lost huge numbers of medical professionals and are so dilapidated that, in some, staff use paint buckets as improvised toilets and reuse surgical gloves.

Health workers express concern that the health system will be quickly overwhelmed.

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