“Without a doubt, the first measure to contain the transmission chains of COVID-19 is quarantine, and we took it in advance on March 16,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro explained in an interview with Alfredo Serrano Mancilla on the Argentinian multimedia program La Pizarra on April 18.
“We call it a social, collective, conscious and voluntary quarantine, there has been no curfew or suspension of guaranteed [rights]. No! We have appealed to the conscience of Venezuelan families throughout the country and their compliance is 85%, on average, with this quarantine that we have been in for more than a month.”
Maduro admitted he is quarantined like all Venezuelans, although, obviously working on a thousand things, sleeping 4–5 hours, exercising, walking, taking advantage of every moment. “And luckily, in good health and in the battle as always.”
Venezuela is the country with the lowest number of deaths in Latin America, with a rate of 0.03% per 100,000 inhabitants. “What is the formula?” asked Mancilla.
Maduro’s response was categorical: “I think something important was that we took bold and timely action. We do not enter into philosophical and useless discussions, that ‘if the quarantine this or that’.”
In addition, he explained that four determining and crucial principles of action were implemented:
- True, radical, deep quarantine with all associated prevention and disinfection measures in streets, public spaces, markets, shops and health centres.
- Expanded and personalised screening, now widespread, to all suspected cases, with innovative use of the Patria System platform, [a socioeconomic database and platform linked to the Patria card] used by more than 19 million people.
- Availability of a complete battery of medicines and treatments combined with the support of China, Russia, Cuba and other international allies. More than 1200 additional Cuban doctors have joined those already in the country, Venezuelan doctors, as well as scientists from allied nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Hospitalisation is guaranteed with 23,000 beds prepared in key public hospitals, 534 of them in CDIs (diagnostic centres) or popular clinics, more than 4000 Intensive Care Units (ICU), together with the private and public medical-health sectors working in a harmonious and coordinated way for the first time.
The Patria System platform was particularly useful as it allowed the electronic sending and receiving of real time results of a survey — prepared jointly with the WHO — of 19 million people enrolled in the system, to reveal their health status and other epidemiological data.
“We located a little more than 150,000 suspected cases and immediately, with the Barrio Adentro health system, with more than 25,000 family doctors, house to house, they have visited more than 140,000 of those cases and performed screening tests on time for all. Many were normal viral cases, but we did extended screening anyway. It is a big data formula combined with the Patria System, applying diagnosis and tests with great results.”
Maduro said that this is the formula that Venezuela has been building “based on the experience of China and South Korea,” however, “In Latin America, we are navigating this sea infected with the pandemic and no one can feel safe yet.”