Mayor Claudia López rattled already jolted nerves of nine million Bogotanos during a televised interview on Monday night with the CM& news network after she raised the probability that the quarantine for the Colombian capital could be extended to June.
The declaration was made as the nation is under lockdown by the Presidential Decree 457 and in force until April 13. López’s aim to challenge President Iván Duque’s timeline is based on preventing “10,000 deaths like in Italy or Spain.” The Mayor went as far as to claim that “if we need to extinguish the economy, we will do so.”
López’s comments were not improvised and a warning to Bogotanos “to prepare psychologically for a three-month quarantine.” The Mayor did confirm that 75% of the city’s residents are abiding by obligatory isolation, yet despite this extraordinary measure, “we must prepare for an economy like that of World War II, a three-month shutdown that produces only the basics: health, food, public services, supplies, and care.”
With Bogotanos in their twelfth day of the quarantine, the reported total of COVID-19 cases in the capital stands at 390 of a national total of 906. According to the daily bulletin of the National Institute of Health, on Monday, Bogotá reported 41 new cases, down from 56 on Sunday.
Two deaths raise the national total to 16. The victims are a 50-year old man in Soledad, Atlántico, and a 62-year old man in Pereira. Thirty-one patients of the disease are recovered.
López’s usurping of an executive power to extend curfew was met with a response by President Duque, who on RCN Radio said Tuesday that “at the moment there isn’t evidence from the epidemic curve to extend, or not, quarantine.” The President did confirm, however, that Colombians will be subject to more lockdowns in the future. “We are proposing sustainable measures and projection to have a rapid recovery for Colombia,” said Duque. “We are also consulting with health, science and economics experts,” he added, revealing a strategy could ease certain freedoms to help the economy.
President Duque’s statement confirms findings by the Ministry of Health that the coronavirus in Colombia has gone from a phase of containment to mitigation with 11% of infections now community spread. Health and Social Protection Minister Fernando Ruíz said that the data is not necessarily “a negative fact, but variation in number,” as anything above 10% of infected cases is classified as mitigation.
The Minister also highlighted that mitigation is based on the general population and not only on control and containment of identified persons. “We cannot sing victory, but we have achieved levels of containment that lead to the flattening of the curve, allowing infected persons to be in better conditions in hospitals,” said Ruiz Gómez. According to the Minister, “in the future, we will have to continue taking measures to keep the curve as flat as possible.”
Under Decree 457, children will remain at home until at least April 20, and those over age 70 until May 30. “We will be making decisions based on the curve,” emphasized Minister Ruiz.