It was to be expected. In fact, during his evening address to the nation on Monday, Colombian President dropped a cue regarding the National Health Emergency, stating that on Tuesday he would make “an important announcement.” Today, it has been confirmed: quarantine across Colombia to be extended until May 25.
President Iván Duque in an emphatic speech accompanied by senior cabinet members reminded Colombians that coronavirus “is profoundly lethal,” and while citizens are worried about their livelihoods the country has to keep “changing its habits” to confront the spread of the pandemic. President Duque also emphasized that by acting early with the closure of borders and all air travel, these measures, among many others, have prevented the collapse of the health system. “These are positive advances, not triumphalist ones,” he said.
What began on March 25 as a stringent lockdown for 48 million Colombians when the country reported 470 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the National Health Emergency’s original deadline was April 13 and extended to April 27. Then, a week before on April 20 with 3.977 cases nationwide, President Iván Duque extended Obligatory Preventive Isolation until May 11. Colombians must now brace themselves for an additional two weeks of quarantine. On Tuesday, coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 8,613, up 640 cases in the last 24 hours and the largest single-day increase since the outbreak on March 6. The Ministry of Health also confirmed 20 additional fatalities raising the death toll to 378. Deaths were confirmed in Bogotá, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Tumaco, Pasto, Leticia, Valledupar, La Unión (Chocó), San Martín (Cesar), San Juan del Cesar (La Guajira). Almost all of the victims suffered from pre-existing medical conditions.
According to the National Institute of Health (INS), 4,076 COVID-19 tests were processed and 2.013 patients have recovered.
Bogotá registered 194 new cases putting the new total for the capital at 3,272 followed by Meta with 152 new cases, Atlántico 61, Barranquilla 50, Nariño 46 and Valle del Cauca 38. Cartagena continues to report higher cases daily with 31 on Tuesday.
With the announcement of the extension of Decree 457, also known as Obligatory Preventive isolation, President Iván Duque did confirm that the country’s “productive life will advance with responsibility,” adding that specific sectors could resume work before May 25.