Venezuela confirms two coronavirus cases, shuts schools

by Reuters
Friday, 13 March 2020 15:24 GMT

(Updates with context, quote, background)

CARACAS, March 13 (Reuters) - Venezuela has confirmed two cases of coronavirus, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday, adding that the country is suspending classes at public and private schools starting on Monday.

President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday said that all flights from Europe and Colombia would be suspended for a month over Coronavirus concerns during a live televised press conference on Thursday.

"Early today, two cases were certified," Rodriguez said in a televised statement. "One 41-year-old citizen was traveling in the United States. The other was traveling in Spain."

The two both arrived on a flight from Spain and both have been put in quarantine, she said.

Those using the Caracas metro system will only be allowed in if they are wearing face masks, Rodriguez said.

Years of recession, hyperinflation, and underinvestment in public services have left Venezuela in poor condition to confront coronavirus, according to public health workers.

The country's hospitals suffer from chronic shortages of medicine and supplies, as well as frequent lapses in electricity and running water.

Maduro has said efforts to fight coronavirus in Venezuela are being jeopardized by U.S. sanctions, meant to force the ruling Socialist Party from power.

(Reporting by Caracas newsroom; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Angus Berwick)

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