This article titled “Global report: Bolivia’s president and Venezuela’s Socialist party leader test positive for Covid-19” was written by Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent and agencies, for theguardian.com on Friday 10th July 2020 04.30 UTC
Two more leading Latin American politicians – from Bolivia and Venezuela – have said they have tested positive for Covid-19 in the same week Brazil’s president announced he had contracted coronavirus.
Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s number two official and the leader of the Socialist party, announced his diagnosis on social media on Thursday evening and said he was in self-isolation. “We will prevail!!” tweeted the influential Chavista.
Jeanine Añez, Bolivia’s rightwing interim president, said she had received the same diagnosis. “I’ve tested positive for Covid-19,” tweeted Añez, who controversially took power after Evo Morales was forced into exile last year.
“I’m OK, I will work in isolation. Together, we will get through this.”
Latin America is home to 8% of the global population but nearly half of recent Covid-19 deaths. The region has suffered more than 120,000 of the world’s 550,000 coronavirus fatalities since its first official case was recorded in Brazil in March. More than 3 million confirmed cases have been recorded. Brazil is the worst-hit country with a confirmed death toll of more than 69,000 and 1.7 million infections.
The official Covid-19 figures of neighbouring Venezuela – which Human Rights Watch has claimed are not credible – are far lower, with just 75 recorded deaths and 8,010 confirmed cases. But on Wednesday the president, Nicolás Maduro, warned his economically collapsed country was now witnessing the “real outbreak”.
Cabello’s announcement came amid growing fears over Covid-19’s advance through Venezuela and the potential for its already collapsed health system to be overwhelmed.
Juan Pablo Guanipa, a prominent opposition politician involved in efforts to force Maduro from power, said he believed the situation was far worse than Venezuela’s authoritarian regime was admitting. “I’m certain these figures bear no relation to reality. The reality is utterly overwhelming,” Guanipa said.
Guanipa is from the western state of Zulia, which appears to be one of the worst-hit parts of Venezuela, with 1661 of its 8,010 confirmed cases.
On Thursday evening, Zulia’s Chavista governor announced he had also been infected. “We are in battle and stable. God is with us. We shall overcome,” Omar Prieto wrote on Twitter.
There are also growing concerns over coronavirus’ spread through Bolivia which has recorded 1,577 Covid-19 deaths and nearly 43,000 cases. Last month the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, also tested positive for Covid-19.
In other key developments:
South Africa recorded its highest one-day case increase since the outbreak began, as the health minister warned people to change their behaviour in the face of a coming coronavirus ‘storm’. The country announced an increase of 13,674 new cases on Thursday night.
Hong Kong is set to announce the suspension of all schools after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus cases that has fuelled fears of a renewed community spread in the city, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday.
The Asian financial hub reported 42 new cases on Thursday, of which 34 were locally transmitted, marking the second consecutive day of rising local infections. The total number of cases in the city since late January now stands at 1,366. Seven people have died.
Australia’s state of Victoria, which is battling to contain a coronavirus outbreak, recorded 288 new cases – the highest one-day total for an Australian state since the outbreak began. The Australian government decided to cut incoming international passengers, including citizens, by half as well as charging them for their mandatory 14-day quarantine.
New Zealand’s government has revealed that a third person has absconded from a managed isolation facility, saying a man cut through a fence so that he could go to buy some alcohol.
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