Doctors Without Borders to withdraw from Venezuela hospital due to restrictions

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) is seen at the international medical humanitarian organisation MSF logistique centre in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

(Reuters) - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) will withdraw from a collaboration with a Venezuelan hospital to treat COVID-19 patients due to restrictions on specialists' ability to enter the country, the medical NGO said on Tuesday.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said the restrictions made it impossible to operate out of the Ana Francisca Perez de Leon II hospital in the poor neighborhood of Petare, in the east of capital Caracas. It said it would maintain programs at the Vargas hospital in Caracas and some facilities elsewhere in the country.

"Although the international team has been replaced almost entirely by qualified Venezuelan personnel and remote consultations, we need specialist staff on site who are familiar with MSF's processes," Isaac Alcalde, MSF's general coordinator in Venezuela, said in a statement.

MSF said it had not received a response to its requests to Venezuelan authorities for work permits for its specialists. Venezuela's information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Venezuela has reported 100,143 cases of the novel coronavirus and 873 deaths.

(Reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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