Colombian medical and scientific organisations have warned that there is an “alarming, vertiginous” surge in Covid-19 cases across the country, pointing to a steep increase since the authorities started reopening the economy in late April.
The Andean country is under a nationwide quarantine until August 1, but President Ivan Duque’s government is simultaneously taking steps to relaunch the economy.
The epicentre of the infections is Bogota, 15 organisations said in a letter to Duque and to the city’s mayor, Claudia Lopez, which was quoted by broadcaster Caracol.
In their letter, the representatives of the country’s healthcare workers, doctor’s unions and medical colleges confirm that intensive care occupancy is reaching maximum capacity with coronavirus patients, and hospitals could collapse if the trend continues.
According to mayor Lopez, ICUs have reached 90% or 1,044 beds used of the city’s 1,161 total. “The plan is to continue installing (ICUs) every day, which is why we came to an agreement with the national government. In fact, we have already installed 356 ventilators that were given to us. As soon as we installed them, patients arrived and occupied them,” said Lopez.
The mayor also added that the largest segment of the population who are infected are between 20 and 50 years of age, yet whose mortality rates are less than 15%. “We all have to take care of ourselves because, if not, more young people will end up unintentionally causing contagion and the deaths of parents and grandparents,” she said.
The organisations called for a two-week strict lockdown across the entire capital, which started introducing rolling two-week quarantines in its areas with the most Covid-19 cases on Monday.
The quarantines, which cover most of the capital’s districts, will run until August 23.
A lockdown for the entire city of 8mn residents, however, has not been imposed so far.
The rolling quarantines only allow one family member at a time to shop for essentials and include an overnight curfew.
The rolling quarantines started in eight districts with a total of more than 2mn residents, and were observed fairly well during the day, local media reported.
Coronavirus infections have increased rapidly in Colombia since April 27, when the authorities began to give permissions for dozens of economic sectors to reopen, the medical and scientific organisations pointed out.
Intensive care units are near saturation in several cities, raising concern that doctors may soon have choose which patients to take in.
The second-largest city, Medellin, and nine nearby municipalities were placed under a strict quarantine from Friday until Monday.
The health ministry confirmed 154,277 novel coronavirus infections nationwide, including 51,281 in Bogota.
More than 5,400 people have died from the disease.
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