Guayaquil, Ecuador, January 13, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has doubled its daily register of Covid-19 cases following the Omicron variant arrival.
The growing number of infections has coincided with schools re-opening for in-person classes amidst reinforced vaccination efforts.
On Wednesday, the South American nation reported 1,267 new infections and four additional deaths, elevating the totals to 449,730 and 5,370, respectively since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. The country went from an average of fewer than one hundred cases per day in December to over 500 in January until reaching the current peak.
According to Venezuelan Communications Minister Freddy Ñáñez, only 6,736 cases remain active, with the majority of patients being treated in public hospitals. The recovery rate stands at 97 percent.
The government spokesman recalled that the highly contagious Omicron variant arrived in the country in late December and is behind the recent upsurge. The first seven cases were detected in passengers arriving from abroad.
"In times of Omicron, we cannot abandon biosecurity measures. Get the booster shot and if you have any symptoms, go to the nearest healthcare center," Ñáñez wrote on Twitter.
For his part, President Nicolás Maduro called to redouble vaccination efforts and to advance with the inoculation of children over two years old. “The only real prevention is the vaccine and this is especially important as we return to in-person classes,” he stated during a televised address on Tuesday.
The Venezuelan president likewise confirmed that a flexible quarantine will stay in place until further notice while reassuring that Omicron “will not be underestimated” as it becomes the predominant variant around the world.
In early 2020, Venezuela adopted a 7x7 scheme, alternating a week of strict lockdown followed by a week with more relaxed measures. The plan was suspended in November as part of the government’s efforts to gradually reactivate the economy.
“We will continue with in-person classes and open flexibilization. Everything is possible if we maintain maximum prevention and biosecurity measures,” Maduro stressed.
Regular school classes in Venezuela resumed on Monday under strict biosecurity measures. According to Education Minister Yelitze Santaella, 94.3 percent of students and personnel have been fully reincorporated to academic activities. The official added that over 5,000 institutions were rehabilitated prior to re-opening and the process will continue.
In turn, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado explained that 7,000 schools were functioning as vaccination centers and some 1.5 million children have been vaccinated. The target is to reach 8 million students in the coming months.
The Venezuelan government is ramping up vaccination efforts in schools across the country.
Overall vaccination in Venezuela continues advancing as well, with authorities announcing that 95 percent of the population has been inoculated so far. However, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimates that around 40 percent have completed the two-shot vaccination scheme.
On January 3, the Venezuelan government rolled out a third booster shot to counter the Omicron variant. For this purpose, the country is using 6.7 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik Light vaccine and 8.9 million doses of China’s Sinopharm (from a 12 million purchase). Cuba’s Abdala is expected to join the program as soon as local production begins.
Healthcare workers, the elderly, people with various health conditions and other vulnerable sectors are currently being prioritized to receive the additional dose.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Caracas.