Venezuela hospital makes own masks to confront new virus

Venezuela hospital makes own masks to confront new virus

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Medical supplies of almost any sort are in short supply in Venezuela, so workers at a maternity hospital in Caracas are racing to confront the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus by making surgical masks, one by one.

Five workers have been holed up for days in the basement of the Concepción Palacios hospital, hunched over sewing machines and transforming disposable blue paper sheets into masks for their 2,800 co-workers.

As of Tuesday, they had managed to turn out about 1,000 of the hand-sewn masks.

“They don't move from those machines,” said supervisor Silvia Bolivar, one of the people who organised the project. “They eat and rest there until they get up in the evening to leave.”

She said other hospitals have begun a similar effort to help fight the virus. It causes only mild to moderate symptoms, such as a fever or cough, for most patients, but can be severe for some people, especially older adults and those with health problems.

Venezuela recorded its first 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 up to last weekend, and most health experts say the nation — already struggling with an economic crisis and widespread shortages — isn't ready for what's to come.

Hospitals are short of masks, gloves, medicines, and sometimes even running water, according to health workers.

“We should have more safety, appropriate face masks, but we're in this emergency,” said one of the workers, Yordania Mata, 34, as she took a break to rest her hands.

President Nicolás Maduro on Monday ordered the entire nation to stay home under a quarantine aimed at cutting off the spread of the new virus, calling it a “drastic and necessary measure”.

Maduro blames much of the problem on US sanctions, though shortages began long before those were imposed.

Facing the new pandemic, he said that “if some problem arises in some hospital, we have to resolve it. We don't have to try to turn it into a political issue, but in cooperation among all”.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon