By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo June 14, 2019 In addition to the lack of food, medicine, and other basic necessities, eating out in the country has become something only a select few can afford. Imagine entering a McDonald’s and seeing that a Happy Meal will cost more than what you make in a month. This was the dire situation that Jesus Yepez experienced at the end of last March. The prices caught him so off guard that he sent a picture of the menu to the U.S. news website, INSIDER. Happy Meal items can vary a bit, yet usually come with a hamburger, fries, drink, and children’s toy. The photo shows the meal price at 18,500 bolívares — far higher than Venezuela’s minimum wage at the time. Since then, it has been adjusted to 40,000 bolívares soberanos (nearly $4, according to the Currency Converter website, as of May 14, 2019). The amount will certainly have changed by the time this article is published, due to the country’s exorbitant inflation rate. Trying to be happy Yepez was buying ice cream for his daughter when he noticed the price and decided to take a picture. “With everything that has happened during this crisis, the only thing we can do is try to be happy,” the architect said, making a reference to the smile displayed on the Happy Meal box. Along with the photo he sent to the website, he also said in his email that the restaurant was practically empty due to the excessively high price of eating out in Venezuela, not just in that McDonald’s, but in any restaurant throughout the country. Jesus Yepez also posted a photo of a “tree” made up with bolívares and Monopoly money replacing leaves on his Instagram account. “People here like to joke that our money is worth as much as Monopoly money, meaning, absolutely nothing,” he said. The country’s hyperinflation, which has been a constant issue during the regime of Nicolás Maduro has reduced the bolívar’s value to practically zero. Barters and exchanges Despite the bolívar losing 99 percent of its value since 2013, when Maduro assumed power, Venezuelans do what they can to survive. According to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian, people are bartering and exchanging goods and services among themselves, as well as currencies other than the bolívar in their financial transactions. The situation is so dire, that it’s common to find people scavenging for food scraps in trash cans on the streets of Caracas and in other Venezuelan cities, according to social media posts. One picture in an Instagram post by Stephanie Vita Marcelot shows several people collecting all the water they possibly can from a leaking sewer pipe system. Stephanie Marcelot said that people are getting very desperate since running water was shut off in their homes days ago. “The water seemed clean, even though it was coming out of pipes that feed from the polluted Guaire,” said the Venezuelan woman about the small river that flows through some streets of Caracas. Several social media posts say that those interruptions in service, not just water but also electricity and internet services are constant and more of a rule than the exception in the country, especially with sustenance and medical services in stark decline.
May 23, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia announced today that a 5-year-old girl died of H5N1 avian influenza, while a hospital official in Vietnam reported that a 30-year-old man is being treated for the disease, apparently marking the country’s first human case in a year and a half.Joko Suyono of the Indonesian health ministry’s avian flu center said the young girl died on May 17, according to a Xinhua news report today. She was taken to a doctor on May 8 and was hospitalized May 15 in Solo, Central Java, the report said.The girl reportedly had contact with infected birds, health ministry official Muhammad Nadhirin told the Associated Press (AP) today. About 20 birds had recently died near her home, the AP report said.If her case is confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), she will be listed as Indonesia’s 97th case-patient and 77th fatality. Indonesia leads the world in the number of human H5N1 cases and deaths.The WHO announced May 16 that it would accept H5N1 test results from Indonesia’s newly accredited national laboratory. Before that, the agency had refused to confirm any cases reported by Indonesia since late January, because the country had stopped sending viruses to WHO collaborating labs in December.Meanwhile, a 30-year-old man from Vietnam’s northern province of Vinh Phuc, about 35 miles from Hanoi, tested positive for H5N1 infection at a Hanoi hospital, where he continues to be treated, the AP reported today. Tran Quy, director of Bach Mai hospital, told the AP the man tested positive 3 days ago.Samples from the patient will be shipped to a WHO lab for analysis, said Hans Troedsson, a WHO official in Vietnam, according to a Canadian Press (CP) report today. Vietnam’s hasn’t had a human H5N1 case since November 2005, but Troedsson said the case is “not really a surprise,” given the known risk of H5N1 transmission from birds to humans.Quy told the AP, “The man is in a critical condition. He has a high fever, difficulty breathing, coughing, and the x-ray of his lung was completely white. All of these are typical bird flu symptoms.”The man was hospitalized last week; relatives reported he fell ill after helping prepare chickens for a wedding reception.If his infection is confirmed, it will be the country’s 94th case. With 93 confirmed cases and 42 deaths, Vietnam has the world’s second highest H5N1 toll.Vietnam had a lull in human cases and poultry outbreaks through most of 2006, during which the country was praised for its H5N1 virus control efforts. The virus resurfaced among ducks in several central Mekong Delta and central provinces in December and January. In early May the country began reporting a new rash of poultry outbreaks throughout the country.