Venezuela government, opposition agree to seek funds to fight coronavirus

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s government has signed an agreement with the opposition-led National Assembly to work with the regional arm of the World Health Organization to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Tuesday.

The one-page agreement was signed on June 1 between Health Minister Carlos Alvarado, Dr Julio Castro, who leads the National Assembly’s commission on the coronavirus, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Rodriguez said.

The parties will seek funds to cover a range of responses from improving testing, acquiring more protective gear and launching public health messaging campaigns, among others, Rodgriguez said.

“COVID-19 does not respect or discriminate against gender, orientation or political party,” Rodriguez said on state television on Tuesday night. “So this is good news, a good start, so that we can deepen our work together to combat COVID-19.”

COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The health ministry, the information ministry, and Castro did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an earlier statement the opposition had signed a technical agreement with the PAHO to launch programs focusing on protective equipment for medical personnel, improving case detection and giving treatment to those with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Rodriguez reported 1,819 coronavirus cases and 18 deaths. Critics and academic reports have said the government is likely underreporting cases as it is not conducting sufficient testing.

Reporting by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Christian Schmollinger