As of 1 August 2020, Venezuela has reported 4,258 cases of dengue - with an incidence rate of 13.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. These include 187 laboratory-confirmed cases, 18 severe cases and 9 deaths, representing a lethality rate of 0.211 per cent. Although there was a 43.2 per cent decrease in reported dengue cases (7,503 cases), the case fatality rate doubled compared to the same period in 2019 (0.107 per cent), and is higher than the average case fatality rate in the Americas (0.036 per cent). In this context, early identification through warning signs and management of cases is necessary to reduce the number of dengue cases requiring hospitalization, alleviating the additional burden on more complex levels of care needed for severe cases of COVID-19 infection.
From 13 March to 14 September 2020, Venezuela recorded 61,569 COVID-19 cases confirmed by PCR testing. To date, 494 deaths have been reported, representing a mortality rate of 0.8 per cent in the last 30 days, one of the lowest in the region. According to the Government, as of 14 September, 85.9 per cent of confirmed cases are linked to community transmissions (52,929) while 14 per cent are imported (8,665). A comparison of the total number of cases reported in June (18,574) with the number of cases reported as of 14 September (61,569) shows an increase by 231.4 per cent.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has planned to provide Venezuela with some 370,000 antigen tests to help detect COVID-19, which cost less than PCR, yield faster results and allow for stratification in the search for contagion. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of tests performed, which has included the decentralization of the tests and the opening of new laboratories.
It is imperative to expand diagnostic capacity through confirmatory testing for COVID-19 among the general population, health workers and at-risk groups, such as migrants and indigenous populations; in addition to continuing to reorganize health services, in order to be able to manage the impact of increased cases and deaths, associated with the likelihood of under-reporting of cases, and delays in surveillance and contact tracing. The provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for personnel in health facilities, in PASIs at border points, and personnel who make home visits, among others, should continue to be prioritized in order to prevent the spread of infection to this population group. Based on consultations with the Ministry of Popular Power for Health (MPSS) and the National Assembly, it is estimated that there is an urgent need for at least 300,150 surgical Na 95 masks, three million face masks, and 10,000 biological protection suits, among other PPEs.
Activities ran by members of the Health Cluster have enabled to ensure the provision of equipment, supplies, essential drugs and Sexual and Reproductive Health services, which have benefited 16,886 people - attended in 5 outpatient clinics, 20 popular clinics, 8 Maternity wards and 30 hospitals in 10 states. In the context of COVID-19, 178,126 people benefited from the delivery of medicines and medical supplies in 31 health establishments, 53 integrated community health areas (ASIC) and 2 outpatient clinics in the states of Apure, Amazonas, Bolívar, Capital District, Miranda, Táchira, Yaracuy and Zulia, where there is a high incidence of COVID-19 confirmed cases. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) delivered more than 20 tons of personal protective equipment, including 1.2 million masks, 200,000 respirator masks, 130,000 face masks, 21,000 surgical gowns and 9,000 safety protective glasses, in 31 hospitals and other health centers, with the aim of strengthening the biosecurity of health personnel who care for the population affected by COVID-19 in the states of Apure, Bolívar, Capital District, Miranda, Táchira and Zulia. In addition, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) initiated a scheme for the delivery of hospital supplies to the Ministry of Popular Power for Health (MPPS) in order to provide 400,000 masks in 52 integrated community health areas (ASIC), located in the Capital District, Miranda, Zulia, Táchira, Apure and Amazonas, as well as disinfection kits in 16 prioritized sentinel hospitals located in the states of Zulia, Táchira, Bolívar, Amazonas, Nueva Esparta and the Capital District. In July, members of the Health Cluster trained 903 health workers in prioritized issues, taking into account age, gender and diversity, in 14 health facilities in the country. 140 health workers were also trained with a focus on caring for COVID-19 patients in six PASIs and three health facilities in Bolívar and Miranda states. 4,897 people benefited from community capacity-strengthening activities in areas of disease prevention, health promotion through awareness raising sessions, prevention measures in sexual and reproductive health, delivery of contraceptive methods and pregnancy care, in 11 outpatient clinics, 9 Integrated Diagnostic Centers, 8 Hospitals and 9 PASIs in 6 states of the country. Through Health Cluster partner activities, the monitoring of 7,265 people living with HIV with antiretroviral treatment was strengthened through the Pharmacies of the National HIV Program of 14 health establishments in 10 states of the country. Similarly, 4,356 people from 28 institutions in seven states benefited from the strengthening of epidemiological surveillance and information systems. Likewise, 22,143 people from specific vulnerable populations (boys, girls, adolescents, pregnant women, indigenous people, people with disabilities, among others) benefitted from reinforced care capacity in 13 outpatient clinics, 8 Integrated Diagnosis Centers, 10 Hospitals, 3 PASIs in 6 states of the country. 7,198 returnees - including pregrant women and their respective partners - benefited from HIV / Syphilis serological testing.
Low capacity to confirm suspected or probable cases of COVID-19. Limited access of humanitarian actors to indigenous communities to support the strengthening of prevention and response to COVID-19 considering that they are both at-risk and vulnerable populations. The timely availability and adequate quantity of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health personnel. The ability to increase health services at scale given the increase in COVID-19 cases to avoid oversaturation and maintain the supply of services for the care of other priority pathologies (HIV/aids, cancer, diabetes, maternal and child health, etc.). The ability to maintain early detection, timely care, and epidemiological surveillance of vector-borne diseases, especially in vulnerable groups in the context of COVID-19. It is necessary to maintain the management of key health information and data - to facilitate adequate assessments and serve as a guide in health facilities throughout the country. Continued fuel shortages in many areas of the country are directly affecting health response logistics.