Venezuela declares coronavirus emergency, cancels flights from Europe and Colombia

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Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro declared a “state of permanent emergency” on Thursday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and canceled for 30 days all flights coming from Europe and Colombia.

Maduro said that as of the moment, the nation does not have a case of the coronavirus. But he asked President Donald Trump to lift the sanctions imposed against him and his regime to allow Venezuela to import the medical supplies it will need to face the health threat posed by the virus.

“I believed it necessary to suspend for up to one month all flights coming from Europe and Colombia. ... We are facing today an alarming situation, which we have been monitoring for more than six weeks,” Maduro said at a press conference held at the Miraflores presidential palace.

“We have taken all preventive measures to detect the arrival to the country of the virus. As of today, it has not reached Venezuela, but we have to get ready. I have decided to declare the health system in a permanent state of emergency to deal with any situation that develops,” he said.

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According to health experts, Venezuela is one of the nations most vulnerable to the virus, given that its health system is in shambles, with public hospitals often running without water or electric service, and that the country lacks basic medical supplies it needs to function normally.

Given the collapse of the country’s economy, the private health facilities called Clinicas in Venezuela often don’t fare much better, while most households also have limited access to basic cleaning supplies, including water and soap, experts agree.

“This is a time for President Donald Trump to lift the sanctions so Venezuela can buy what it needs to face the virus,” Maduro said.

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