It’s been a challenging week for Colombia with coronavirus after Johns Hopkins University stated that the country has the worst outbreak in the world, surpassing in deaths per million: Bolivia, Peru, Panama, South Africa and the United States. Then came the news from Bogotá Mayor Claudia López that after 160 days of quarantine, seven localities in the capital return to strict lockdown as of Sunday, August 16, and which will affect close to 2 million residents.
Having stated early this week that strict quarantines were no longer ” a viable option” in Bogotá, given the severe impact these have on the local economy, on Thursday, López rewrote the narrative justifying her decision based on “scientific data” as the capital reaches “a plateau in the first peak of the pandemic.” Accompanied via video conference by respected infectious diseases experts, Mayor López used visual aides to explain why “this last round” of quarantines needs to be enacted before Bogotá embarks on a gradual reopening of key sectors on September 1. The reopening includes El Dorado airport and “A Cielo Abierto,” in which 100 streets will be turned into pedestrian-only spaces in order to accommodate outdoor diners. Restaurants have been closed to indoor seating since March 19, yet have been allowed to operate with take-away or home delivery companies.
The decision to extend quarantine in Usaquén, La Candelaria, Chapinero, Teusaquillo, Santa Fe, Puente Aranda and Antonio Nariño, sparked protests on Friday by shopkeepers who once again have to shutter their outlets for 14 days adding to five months of lost sales and revenue. López has called for a “Marshall Plan” for the capital given the devastating impact of the pandemic on employment, education and security. The peaceful protests were conducted as Bogotá registered 4,506 new cases of COVID-19, putting Friday’s total at 154,452.
Colombia registered 11,306 cases – including the numbers from Bogotá – raising the national total to 445,111.
For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic on March 6, on Friday, the number of recovered patients – 10,800 – was almost on par with new infections and the country set a new record with 41,434 PCR tests processed. According to the Ministry of Health, 261,296 patients of the virus have recovered, leaving active cases at 168,394. Sadly, the country saw an additional 347 fatalities putting the death toll at 14,492.