The Maduro government announced today that there were 77 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Venezuela over the last 24 hours, shattering a weeks-long trend that averaged daily increases in the single-digits. The total number of cases now sits at 618.

The announcement, which came from vice president Delcy Rodriguez, has raised concerns that the official figures are now reflecting the start of an exponential curve in new detected cases of the disease. For three days now, the government has announced double-digit increases of COVID-19 cases, upending the trend since the start of the outbreak that saw most days conclude with a single-digit rise in new cases.

Julio Castro, an infectious disease expert who heads the Guaido government’s Science Committee, said that no country in the world has shown a linear increase in new cases as has been the case in Venezuela so far. Castro said:

We believe that Venezuela will enter an exponential phase [in new cases] at some point. That will be the moment when we will need hospitals to be in the best possible shape, but sadly that has not happened.

Last week, the Academia de Ciencias Fisicas, Matematicas y Naturales [Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences] released a report that the confirmed cases might make up only 59% of all symptomatic COVID-19 cases in Venezuela. This, the report argues, is due in part to the low rate of testing in Venezuela. The same report estimated “more than one thousand new cases per day” at the peak of the outbreak in Venezuela, which could come in September.

Diosdado Cabello, the vice president of the ruling PSUV party, reacted to the report by threatening to arrest the scientists involved in its publication, claiming that “they did not have a single piece of evidence” to back up any of the claims, despite the fact that the report lays this evidence bare.

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