Pandemic continues to hurt most vulnerable in Venezuela, Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia – The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is hurting the most vulnerable in Venezuela and Colombia where the vaccination campaigns are progressing at a painfully slow pace and officials are implementing lockdown measures.

Intensive care units in Colombia are filling up. Many hospitals in Venezuela were already requiring patients to provide their own medical supplies before the pandemic.

Some people are opting to treat loved ones at home. Every day, long lines form outside of businesses that refill oxygen tanks to treat COVID-19 patients.

Enrique Ochoa, a healthcare worker in Caracas, said he is relying on donations to cover the cost: $30 to refill a large tank.

Carlos Rodriguez, who runs a business to refill oxygen tanks, said many people can’t afford it. He said there is an emerging black market charging up to triple the original price.

Officials in Colombia and Venezuela worry that the mutating Brazilian P.1 variant is spreading and may be able to evade COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the John Hopkins University case tracker, Colombia has had more than 2.8 million cases including at least 72,000 deaths. Venezuela reported nearly 190,000 cases but experts believe the lack of access to testing makes it impossible to track the spread.

More in Spanish

Torres contributed to this report from Miami.

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.