Thursday marked a tragic day for Colombia’s ongoing fight against coronavirus as total cases climbed to 80,599 and death toll claimed an additional 163 victims, putting the new total of fatalities at 2,654. Thursday marked the worst day for fatalities since the outbreak on March 6.

The city most impacted by the rising death toll is Barranquilla with 47 victims, and the department of Atlántico with 33. Bogotá registered an additional 18 deaths and 1269 cases, putting its new total at 24,636.

The 3,486 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were processed from 18,501 PCR tests and also among the highest recorded in recent weeks. The Ministry of Health is monitoring 453 clusters of the virus across the country.

The news that deaths doubled in a week comes as the nation is gearing up for further economic reopening as of July 1, and the possibility that inter-municipal transportation could resume with strict biosecurity protocols. Residents of Bogotá have been confined to the district capital since March 20 after Mayor López restricted mobility to all surrounding departments.

With the prospect that international air travel will commence as of Sept 1 even if the National Health Emergency is extended, Bogotá’s El Dorado airport began implementing biosecurity measures to protect passengers from possible coronavirus infections. “The airport is prepared to restart operations with all biosafety measures in place,” remarked Andrés Ortega, manager of Opain, the airport’s operator. “We are waiting to structure protocols for the pilot opening with the Mayor of Bogotá, Civil Aeronautics Authority and airlines.” El Dorado is the third busiest airport in Latin America.

Measures include the use of 15 thermal imaging cameras in different areas of the airport as well as disinfection of all waiting rooms, rugs and furniture with micro-diffusers. Stairs, handrails and contact areas will be disinfected ten times a day.

Passengers entering El Dorado will be required to wear latex gloves and face masks. If for any reason travelers don’t have their personal protection accessories, vending machines will be stocked with these mandatory items.

To minimize person-to-person contact, passengers will need to fill out their boarding passes virtually and chairs will be separated in waiting rooms to meet social distancing requirements. All travelers entering the airport must undergo a temperature scan and if they present coronavirus symptoms will be redirected to the Ministry of Health for quarantine. “We want to be a benchmark for airport safety and offer tranquility to all passengers,” concluded Ortega.