In the news: Colombia border closure raises Venezuela coronavirus fears

The decision cuts off a vital supply and healthcare lifeline for Venezuelans at a worrying time.

Image of Venezuelan migrants crossing the Simón Bolívar International Bridge
Venezuelan migrants cross the Simón Bolívar International Bridge. Until its closure on Saturday, along with all other official Colombia-Venezuela border routes, the bridge was the busiest artery between the two countries. (Bram Ebus/TNH)

Chaotic scenes were reported at Colombia’s border with Venezuela over the weekend after Colombian President Iván Duque announced its closure, prompting fears over the health of many Venezuelans, given their country’s shattered healthcare system.

For years, thousands of Venezuelans have crossed daily into Colombia, either to flee the country – 4.8 million have since 2015 – or for healthcare needs that have been increasingly hard to meet in Venezuela, where hyperinflation has decimated the oil-rich economy.

Following Duque’s announcement on Friday, Venezuelans needing help were reportedly stuck in Venezuela, while others who had crossed for supplies or assistance became trapped in Colombia and couldn’t return.

As of Sunday evening, Colombia had reported 54 cases of coronavirus and Venezuela 17. Neither country had yet reported a fatality.

Read TNH’s coverage for more on the situation of the elderly in Venezuela, and the country’s healthcare crisis.

– Andrew Gully

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