Colombian Health Minister Fernando Ruíz has not ruled out the possibility that the entire nation could once again be placed under quarantine if new cases of coronavirus infection continue to increase. The remarks come after the Colombian capital registered 2,409 cases on Tuesday, and the highest per-day increase since mid-August when rotating quarantines were lifted.

The capital currently has 25,597 active cases of the nation’s 74,586. Colombia, since the outbreak on March 6, has totaled 877,683 cases and remains in fifth place in the world with the most cases, surpassed by Russia, Brazil, India and United States.

Minister Ruíz highlighted that the only way the country can avoid another lockdown will depend on citizens enforcing strict hygiene protocols in upcoming months. Bogotá Mayor Claudia López also voiced concern over the recent spike in infections, stating that the capital will witness two additional waves of contagion, one in December, and the other in February, 2021.  In order to contain the spread of the virus, López also said it “was impossible” for bars and discotheques to reopen this year.

“The decision to decree quarantine will depend on the intensity of each wave,” said Ruíz. The Minister’s statement comes as many European nations are enacting more restrictions as cases there also increase, with France registering a new all-time high with 18,746 patients on Wednesday. Italy also saw an increase of 3,678 cases in the last 24 hours and the highest tally since April.

Mayor López placed part of the blame in the spike in new cases on the protests that erupted in Bogotá over the death of a 43-year old lawyer in police custody. “The mathematics of COVID is unforgiving: Exactly 14 days after the riots on September 9, 10 and 11, and September 23, 24 and 25, we had an increase in cases. Exactly 14 days after the marches of September 21 and 22, October 5 and 6, we have an increase again,” wrote López on Twitter. 

On Thursday, ICU occupancy stood at 64% with 1,418 patients in hospital. The country added 7,875 new cases of which 2,286 are in Bogotá. The official death toll increased to 27,180.