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'I thought I was going to die.' Inside Venezuela's mandatory quarantine motels

September 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - JULY 20: A member of the medical staff disinfects the corridors of the hotel where COVID-19 patients are staying during week 19 of radical quarantine on July 20, 2020 in Caracas, Venezuela. To manage hospital occupation rates, Venezuelan government has 4,000 hotel rooms nationwide to host and isolate patients of COVID-19 with no or mild symptoms. The Milenio hotel, in the Chaguaramas area, has 60 rooms and is now hosting 61 patients. They stay in single or double rooms with air conditioning, cable TV and internet service. Three groups of doctors rotate in shifts of three days and stay at the hotel. Patients are tested every two or three days and receive doses of Chloroquine and Azithromycin. There is international concern about the real capacity of the government of Nicolas Maduro to control the pandemic due to the health, social and economic crisis the country is going through. According to Johns Hopkins University, Venezuela has 12,334 positive cases (half of them already recovered) and 116 reported deaths. (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images)

Doctors say Venezuela's government has been using motels and other makeshift facilities to quarantine patients suspected of having the novel coronavirus, in a bid to keep them from overburdening the country's already crumbling hospitals.

First she was put in a government-run diagnostics center for three days, where she says she shared a room with no air conditioning with four other patients.

​Doctors we spoke to say Venezuela's government has been using motels and other makeshift facilities to quarantine patients suspected of having the novel coronavirus, in a bid to separate them from the general population and keep them from overburdening the country's already depleted and crumbling hospitals.

The mother of three was sent to a motel run by a local councilman with the help of three to four Cuban doctors, she says, estimating that about 100 suspected Covid-19 patients were held there in total.

The Venezuelan government did not respond to multiple requests for comment about conditions in hospitals and quarantine motels, or about its testing for Covid-19.

Today, one Venezuelan doctor told CNN that "approximately half" of hospitals designated to treat Covid-19 patients don't have enough personal protective equipment, water, or electricity.

Official data on the number of people who have been put under state-managed quarantine is not publicly available, but doctors, NGO workers and other experts told CNN that at least half of the more than 45,000 people officially listed as having recovered from Covid-19 likely spent time in a mandatory quarantine facility.

Several NGOs and doctors told CNN that they believe many infections go unreported, and that in some cases patients die without even knowing they had Covid-19.

"There's at least twice as many cases than what is reported as deceased in the official lists, of people who died with acute respiratory symptoms, who most likely had Covid-19 and which are not in the definition of the ministry," one doctor told CNN.

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