Since early March, Venezuela has been in an emergency nation-wide quarantine and lock-down in the face of the coronavirus. Airports have been closed, international and even inter-state travel has been very limited.
As a public health organization, in coordination with the clinics and doctors with whom we work, the Turimiquire Foundation operates in compliance with this national quarantine, maintaining essential medical services like family planning on a limited basis. These services are needed more than ever as women frequently tell us. Families confined in quarantine will be having unintended babies if they cannot get access to birth control. We are finding ways to maintain access to pills, injections and condoms for our outlying rural clientele and ongoing medical attention for implants, IUDs and outpatient surgeries, with a priority on keeping everyone safe.
Since the quarantine began several months ago, Venezuela has been registering new positive cases of Covid-19 daily with relatively few recorded deaths. While most of the cases are registered in the densely populated center of the country, outlying rural areas like our own state of Sucre in the northeast quadrant of the country are showing more cases now starting in June. The scarcity of gasoline for transportation, and the lack of widespread testing, makes a real evaluation of the situation difficult.
Updated information is released almost daily by the government in Caracas. “The curve remains flattened so far,” functionaries say, while calling on the population “to be more disciplined and strictly comply with the social, collective and voluntary quarantine as a preventive measure that will cut the transmission chain of this virus that is highly contagious and can be fatal.” In many states, the Military and the National Guard are in the streets enforcing compliance, and some doctors feel that this may be a necessary measure because the country’s public health infrastructure does not have the capacity to deal with this pandemic in the midst of an ongoing widely documented humanitarian crisis. As in other countries, there is active debate about the tradeoffs between public health and safety, and the economic and human rights of the quarantined population, with no solution in sight.
Map of Coronavirus to Date in Venezuela