“Colombia has seven difficult weeks ahead with COVID-19,” warned Gina Tambini, country representative of the World Health Organization as new cases of infection are steadily increasing with the third wave of the pandemic.
Tambini also gave a grim projection that coronavirus-related deaths will also increase over the next four weeks. The remarks made Monday came as the health expert attended President Iván Duque’s televised Prevention and Action newscast, and hours before a three-day quarantine in Bogotá ended. “Almost all regions of the world are seeing increasing numbers of infections and deaths, despite 780 million doses of vaccines administered worldwide,” she warned.
In anticipation that quarantine would be lifted as of 4:00 am on Tuesday, tens of thousands of workers overwhelmed Bogotá’s mass transit system TransMilenio to take buses that were operating on a Sunday schedule. Unexpected crowds during what was the final day of a strict lockdown reveal the scope of “civil disobedience” – as several city councilors claimed – at a time in which Bogotá’s per-day cases of infection average 4,000 compared to 2,000 at the beginning of April.
On Tuesday, as Bogotá’s hospital system entered Red Alert with ICU occupation at 76%, Mayor Claudia López stressed the importance of residents getting a free PCR test even if they do not have covid symptoms. The district will also continue its mass vaccination campaign for persons age 70 or over and healthcare workers at a drive-thru clinic on AutoNorte, Movistar Arena, as well as district hospitals and EPS health centers. To avoid a repeat of crowds, Mayor López also confirmed that the Metropolitan police will set up 26 control posts during the upcoming quarantines.
As was to be expected with the worrisome surge in new cases, Bogotá returns to strict lockdown as of Thursday midnight to 4:00 Monday, April 19. And repeat from Friday, April 23, to Monday, April 26.
The same mobility restrictions and alcohol sales ban will be enforced during both quarantines, as well as the identity card measure Pico y cédula. López’s also emphasized that companies should recommend work-from-home and that all universities and schools return to virtual education. The news that Bogotá will have back-to-back quarantines comes as new COVID-19 infections nationwide for Tuesday totaled 16,377, of which, 3,451 were confirmed in Bogotá and 3,796 in the country’s second-largest city Medellín. Colombia lost an additional 326 lives to the virus, raising the death toll to 66,482.