For years, Venezuela’s healthcare system has veered toward collapse. Water, medicine, protective equipment, and other essentials have been in short supply. As the country reports its first coronavirus cases, experts fear the nation could be an ideal breeding ground for the disease.
“I am very concerned that in Venezuela there are no supplies, medicines, or even water in hospitals or homes,” Josefina Moreno, a university professor with a history of respiratory disease, said in an interview with Reuters. “The prevention measures that everyone is talking about are hard to comply with here.”
As of Sunday afternoon, a total of 10 coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Venezuela, according to Jorge Rodriguez, minister of communication and information.
After the first two cases were announced on Friday, schools across the country were closed indefinitely. Later that day, neighboring Colombia — which announced its first case last week and now has several dozen cases — halted all border crossings with Venezuela. The two countries share a 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border.
Venezuela has also barred all flights with Europe and Colombia, and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó canceled planned street demonstrations.
The protective measures, however, fail to address Venezuela’s major vulnerability in combating the virus: a woefully unprepared healthcare system.