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Bolivia announces total quarantine to combat virus

Bolivia announces total quarantine to combat virus

A Bolivian military officer stands on a street in the empty city centre of La Paz, after the government asked residents to stay indoors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in La Paz, Bolivia, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado

LA PAZ: Bolivia's government on Saturday (Mar 21) announced a complete quarantine to come into effect from Sunday in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"It's a tough but necessary decision for the good of everyone," said interim President Jeanine Anez.

"We must be at home for 24 hours a day," she said, adding that "it's the way to beat coronavirus."

Only one person per family will be allowed to go out to buy goods from food shops, which will be open until midday.

All vehicles will be barred from the roads except those carrying supplies.

In recent days, the calls for the government to impose a total quarantine had risen -- from political leaders, regional authorities and medical associations.

Bolivia has so far registered 19 cases, far fewer than neighboring countries such as Brazil, with more than 900, and Chile, with more than 500.

A few days ago, Bolivia had already imposed a partial lockdown, reducing the length of the working day and nighttime travel.

From Saturday, a decree closing air and land borders and limiting domestic travel came into effect.

Anez said that in the coming days, the government would activate a scheme to help the population, including the payment of a family allowance, a drop in the price of basic services and economic support for small and medium-sized businesses.

However, managers at the largest public hospital in La Paz complained in a statement that they are lacking supplies to treat coronavirus patients and that staff are ill-trained to do so.

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Source: AFP/nh

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