- Title: Venezuela is a health 'time bomb,' Colombian president says
- Date: 26th June 2020
- Summary: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FILE - 2020) (REUTERS) AERIAL VIEW OF THE CHRIST THE REDEEMER STATUE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN PROTECTIVE SUITS BEING DISINFECTED SAO PAULO, BRAZIL (FILE - 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF COVID-19 PATIENTS IN INTENSIVE CARE UNIT AERIAL VIEW OF GRAVES BEING DUG PEOPLE CARRYING COFFIN AT CEMETERY
- Embargoed: 10th July 2020 23:39
- Keywords: Brazil Colombian President Ivan Duque Maduro Venezuela borders cases coronavirus infections pandemic report terrorism
- Location: BOGOTA & UNIDENTIFIED JUNGLE LOCATION, COLOMBIA / RIO DE JANEIRO & SAO PAULO, BRAZIL / CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: BOGOTA & UNIDENTIFIED JUNGLE LOCATION, COLOMBIA / RIO DE JANEIRO & SAO PAULO, BRAZIL / CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004CK0DFLZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Colombian President Ivan Duque on Friday (June 26) called Venezuela a public health "time bomb," and said the lack of reliable information about the status of its neighbor's coronavirus outbreak was a worry as his administration tries to control its own infections.
Colombia has long been the top destination for Venezuelans fleeing years of social and economic upheaval in their home country.
Asked if he was worried about Colombia's lengthy borders with Venezuela and Brazil as a conduit for the virus, even though they are officially closed, Duque told Reuters he was, and said the issue with Venezuela was a lack of information.
"In the case of Venezuela the information is non-existent," Duque said in an interview. "There's not good hospital capacity or good epidemiological capacity, for a long time they haven't had serious vaccination programs."
"I think Venezuela is a time bomb from the public health point of view."
Venezuela has acknowledged just 4,600 coronavirus cases and 39 deaths, while Colombia has reported around 80,600 confirmed cases and more than 2,600 deaths.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has insisted his country has managed the outbreak better than other Latin American nations and says most cases can be traced to migrants returning from Colombia and Brazil.
Venezuelan doctors, however, have decried insufficient hospital beds and supplies, limited use of face masks in public spaces, and the use of low-budget hotels to quarantine patients.
Duque's government does not recognize Maduro as his country's rightful leader and regularly accuses him of harboring crime gangs and leftist rebels. Duque accused the Maduro government of harboring Colombian rebels and terrorist groups.
U.S. prosecutors indicted Maduro and over a dozen current and former Venezuelan officials on charges of narco-terrorism and drug smuggling in March. Maduro has dismissed the charges as a politically motivated fabrication by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Colombia last month sent more soldiers to its border with Brazil to stop informal crossings, after sparsely-populated Amazonas province saw a spike in cases.
Brazil has the world's second highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States, registering more than 1.2 million cases and nearly 55,000 deaths. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic.
Duque said in contrast with Venezuela, Brazil and its officials are making efforts to control the virus, however.
"It must also be emphasized that (Brazil) has much more trustworthy, more credible institutions," he said.
"Also regionally we've seen state governors are trying to do more tests, putting in measures, there is a coordinated effort with national authorities."
(Production: Herbert Villarraga, Patrick Alwine)
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