Bogotá grapples with plight of migrants as COVID-19 cases nationwide reach 1161


With a city-wide quarantine that completes two weeks on Friday and a nationwide lockdown that enters Day 10 of 19, Bogotá Mayor Claudia López has insisted on extending the deadline to the end of May for the city’s 8 million inhabitants based on statistics that indicate the district would require 2,200 additional ICU units to attend high-risk patients.

The plight of thousands of Venezuelan migrants in the capital has exacerbated tensions between the mayoralty and President Iván Duque’s handling of the health emergency after Mayor López blamed the country’s immigration entity Migración Colombia for failing to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the city’s migrant population, the majority of whom are Venezuelan, and eek-out living on the streets.

A rash of evictions in Bogotá’s derelict Santa Fe district of 1,200 tenants, including members of the Embera indigenous peoples, raised the ire of Mayor López stating that “Bogotá doesn’t have the capacity to take care of the needs of Venezuelans, obligation where the government has systematically failed.” López went as far as to blame Migración Colombia for infecting the country through El Dorado airport.

Since the first day Mayor López enacted a “quarantine drill” for the capital, March 20, Venezuelan migrants have taken to the streets to protest their precarious condition and exclusion from food assistance programs.

According to Migración Colombia, Bogotá is home to 352,000 Venezuelans or 20% of the nation’s total. Faced with landlords in a vulnerable neighborhood of the city and prostitution Tolerance Zone, the district’s Government Secretary Luis Ernesto Gómez has reiterated that evictions are prohibited during the length of quarantine by Decree 93. If faced with a prolonged quarantine many migrants are pleading for authorities to relocate them to Cúcuta at the Venezuelan border.

Bogotá has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country with 542 and 6 deaths. According to data from the National Institute of Health (INS), 487 cases are still active and 55 individuals have recovered.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health confirmed that one immigration officer was infected with COVID-19.

Given rising numbers of patients in Bogotá requiring swift medical attention, the district’s Health Secretariat is boosting its home health care teams to complete 100 over the next several days and coordinated by the Center for Emergencies (CRUE). Of 74 teams currently conducting home visits, 24 are financed by the District Health Secretariat and EPS-S Health Capital, while the other 50 by Nueva EPS, Famisanar, Sanitas, Salud Total and Compensar.

Under the COVID-19 guidelines for Bogotá, CRUE receives phone calls from citizens reporting possible symptoms for coronavirus, and based on this preliminary information first responders determine cases that require medical confirmation through testing. The home health care teams will take samples if required and enforce measures to prevent the spread of disease in homes.

The number of coronavirus cases declined slightly in the capital on Thursday to 70 after the largest single-day increase of 82 infected persons on Wednesday.

In the INS COVID-19 bulletin for April 2, the national total now stands at 1,161 cases, and 19 deaths. 955 patients are being treated in their homes.

The two most recent deaths are a 33-year old man in Bogotá and an 81-year old woman in Zipaquirá.


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