Venezuela denies hospital deaths direct results of energy outage

CARACAS, March 10 (Xinhua) — Venezuela’s Health Minister Carlos Alvarado on Sunday denied the deaths of hospitalized people as a direct result of the power outage affecting the country.

“I want to deny outright the biased news of deaths due to the electricity issue. News that spread minutes after the criminal attack occurred, talking about the number of dead are absolutely false,” Alvarado told state radio.

The health minister said when the outage happened “90 percent of the electric generators in the health centers kicked in, this prevented a huge catastrophe, given that 200 patients were in intensive care or the operating room.”

Thanks to a contingency plan which was immediately activated in more than 298 hospitals that make up the country’s public health system, “we managed to avoid any event that we would regret,” he said.

According to Alvarado, now more than 96 percent of the electric generators at hospitals are working and critical medical services are operating well.

The minister reiterated that although some patients who were in critical condition might have died during the blackout, “there has been no reported death as a direct result of the outage.”

“The government is in permanent supervision and control of the national hospital situation,” Alvarado said.

Since Thursday afternoon, large parts of Venezuela have been left without power due to what the authorities called a sabotage of the country’s central hydroelectric plant at the Guri Dam in southeastern Venezuela, which supplies up to 65 percent of the country’s hydroelectric energy, according to 2015 government data.

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