By Sinikka Tarvainen (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Coronavirus cases among senior Latin American officials kept climbing Friday, with Venezuelan Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami the latest to announce his Covid-19 diagnosis.
“Today I start my isolation under all the medical protocols after testing positive for Covid-19,” El Aissami tweeted.
“A new battle that I assume while holding on to God and life!!” he added.
El Aissami made the announcement one day after Diosdado Cabello, a close political ally of President Nicolas Maduro, said he had also contracted the virus.
Maduro on Friday called on “everyone” to take precautions. “Let’s do it for health and life!” he said on Twitter.
Latin American leaders to have been diagnosed with Covid-19 include Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, his Honduran counterpart Juan Orlando Hernandez and Jeanine Anez, the interim president of Bolivia, where several ministers have also tested positive.
The spread of the virus among presidents and ministers should act as a warning that there is no such thing as “zero risk,” said Alfonso Tenorio, a representative of the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization in Bolivia.
Speaking about the infections among Bolivian politicians, Tenorio said they were “an opportunity to recognize that [the virus] is very contagious.”
“We need to recognize that distancing measures are important, [but] the point is that there is no zero risk,” Bolivia’s national news agency ABI on Friday quoted him as saying.
Anez’s doctor said late on Thursday that the 52-year-old had no symptoms and was working from home, according to ABI.
Cabello, meanwhile, is being treated after complaining of headaches, Venezuelan daily El Nacional on Friday quoted Maduro as saying.
“He is well,” the president added of Cabello, who is the vice president of the ruling Socialist Party.
Bolsonaro has also said he is doing well and even took his face mask off when announcing his infection to journalists on Tuesday, leading a press association to sue him for putting them at risk.
Honduras’ Hernandez, who developed pneumonia, was released from hospital last week.
The Americas region is the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. The largest numbers of infections have been recorded in the United States
– more than 3 million – and in Brazil, over 1.7 million.