On June 23, Reuters reported that Venezuela's Zulia state had emerged as a new coronavirus hot spot, noting that "poorly supplied hospitals and chronic shortages of water and power make it difficult to prevent the disease from spreading."
Yet, just two days earlier, Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro had tweeted that "every day we protect the health of our people.”
The statement is misleading.
Maduro glosses over the country’s intensifying humanitarian and economic crisis, which, according to the United Nations, has led to an exodus of 5 million people in recent years.
The coronavirus situation is so alarming that in early June 20 people with the virus asked to be released from the University Hospital of Maracaibo in Zulia’s capital – because they had no food or water.
To be sure, the virus arrived on top of an economic and political free fall in Venezuela, where inflation is rampant and many rely on outside humanitarian aid to survive. In the latest (2019) Global Health Security Index study of 195 countries, Venezuela’s health care capacity ranked 146th.