Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colombia are released daily by the Ministry of Health based on the data gathered from the National Institute of Health (INS). Since the first patient with symptoms of coronavirus was reported in Bogotá by the INS on March 5, the numbers nationwide have grown to 608, with six deaths and 8 persons recovered.
A bulletin dated March 26 in which COVID-19 cases stood at 491, a mere 21 cases higher than the 470 confirmed the previous day, raising fears that the testing method in the country was flawed, and samples sent to Bogotá were not presenting an accurate picture of the extent of the outbreak.
On Thursday, the INS released a statement attributing the lower numbers to a technical failure in the testing machine but given that the country where the machine was manufactured – Germany – has closed its borders, getting a replacement was not feasible. The machine is capable of processing 100 samples in over an hour.
Over the next 48 hours, technicians repaired the machine to confirm 608 patients infected, with Bogotá reporting the highest concentration of the disease with 264 cases.
As the country braces for an onslaught of patients requiring medical assistance and intensive care units, hotels, fairgrounds and military bases are being adapted as makeshift hospitals. In Bogotá, the main hall of Corferias exhibition grounds is being transformed into a ward for 2,200 patients with “low complexity” symptoms.
The landmark Tequendama Hotel will also serve as a temporary “semi-medical” facility for COVID-19 diagnosed persons. In Cartagena, the Naval Hospital has set up field tents to attends infected persons in the port city.