Venezuela - July 2020

Situation Report
Background

Situation Overview

As of 14 September, authorities have recorded 61,569 cases of COVID-19 in the country, including 49,371 recoveries and 494 deaths. In July there was a 300 per cent increase in the number of confirmed cases, with an average of 403 daily cases. Since the beginning of July, there have been more community transmission cases than imported cases. As of 14 September, authorities had recorded 8,100 cases among returnees, representing 12.9 per cent of all cases.

The capital region has become the main zone of transmission of the virus, surpassing the infection rates of the border states. Caracas and the nearby state of Miranda have reported the most active cases.

Regarding the impact of COVID-19 among indigenous communities, PAHO/WHO reported that between the confirmation of the first cases in the country and up to 2 August, 179 cases were confirmed among indigenous populations, including three deaths. Bolívar state reported 68.5 per cent of these cases (123) while the rest were reported in the states of Zulia (43 cases, 2 deaths), Amazonas (12 cases) and Delta Amacuro (1 fatal case). The Pemón and Wayú indigenous ethnic groups have been the most affected.

As of 14 September, a total of 1,864,663 diagnostic tests for COVID-19 have been performed, including rapid diagnostic tests and PCR tests. Authorities continue deploying efforts to decentralize and increase PCR diagnostic capacity with the support of PAHO/WHO. Consequently, PAHO/WHO is working towards strengthening diagnostic capacities as part of the collaboration agreement between the Ministry of Popular Power for Health and the advisory team of the National Assembly, to continue implementing the COVID-19 response priorities. On 6 September, the Regional Public Health Laboratory “Dr. Félix Pifano ” was inaugurated in Yaracuy state. The Laboratory will provide services to the people living in the state of Yaracuy, as well as those living in the states of Lara, Portuguesa, Cojedes and neighboring municipalities. With the new Félix Pifano laboratory in Yaracuy state and José Gregorio Hernández laboratory in Miranda state, the country has now reached five centers able to process samples for molecular testing (PCR). The three other centers are the Rafael Rangel National Hygiene Institute, its mobile laboratory, and the VenezuelanInstitute of Scientific Research (IVIC).

The trend of people returning to the country continues, with authorities estimating that more than 90,000 people have returned to Venezuela across land borders since the beginning of April, the majority through the state of Táchira. The 96 temporary accommodation spaces (PASI) established by authorities in border states (Táchira, Apure, Amazonas, Delta Amacuro, Zulia and La Guaira), continue to provide services to returnees who must fulfill a quarantine period of at least two weeks before being transferred to their destination states. At the national level, due to the increase in the number of community transmission cases in several areas, national and regional authorities have established additional spaces in hotels, sports centers and convention or sports villages for the temporary accommodation of asymptomatic people diagnosed with COVID-19, and those only displaying mild symptoms. On 9 August, national authorities announced a thirty-day extension of the State of Emergency as well as the mandatory quarantine and physical distancing measures that have been implemented since 13 March, extending the validity of the decree for 30 days. The National Institute of Civil Aeronautics announced the restriction of air operations for the same period throughout the country with the exception of cargo, humanitarian, repatriation, mail, or flights authorized by the United Nations. The authorities have continued to implement the quarantine scheme and partial flexibility of activities with a differentiated application at three levels, ranging from radical quarantine to the implementation of the relaxation of some sectors alternating seven days of activity with seven days of quarantine, according to evaluations carried out by the authorities based on the territorial evolution of the situation. Gasoline shortages are reported in most of the country, despite the implementation of the dual pricing scheme, which includes subsidized and unsubsidized prices. Several weeks without fuel are reported in various areas, while several towns that still have a supply have restricted the provision of the service to priority sectors. In various states of the country, limitations in access to water, energy, gas and telecommunications services continue to be reported. There are reports of frequent power outages that affect several states, some exceeding 8 or 10 hours a day, as well as the growing number of people using biomass and firewood for cooking due to the lack of domestic gas. The socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased concern regarding the possible exacerbation of humanitarian needs across the region and in Venezuela. According to ECLAC predictions on the evolution and impact of COVID-19 in Latin America, Venezuela's Gross Domestic Product will decrease by 26 per cent in 2020, in the context of a regional decline that will also affect unemployment rates, poverty and inequality. In this regard, FAO has indicated that the increase in poverty in the region will further increase the risks of a food crisis, not because of the lack of food, but because of the scarcity of resources to acquire it, with Venezuela being one of the most affected countries in the region. In particular, the drop in purchasing power linked to low minimum wages and high inflation limit people's ability to access quality food and diets.

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