Bogotá Mayor Claudia López officiated on Monday the opening of the city’s transitional hospital for non-COVID-19 patients inside the Corferias exhibition grounds. Equipped with 200 beds of 650 for the initial phase, the Centro Hospitalario is ready to receive patient referrals from city hospitals who have tested negative for COVID-19 and are being treated for other medical conditions.
The inauguration of the makeshift ward comes a week before the government introduces changes to the national quarantine on Tuesday, April 28, to ease the economic impact of specific sectors while calling on citizens to exercise “discipline” with social distancing, obligatory use of face masks and restrictive mobility, including as President Iván Duque, closure of all airports until at least mid-May.
Yet, Mayor López appears to be dictating her own quarantine policies warning Bogotanos that “over her dead body” El Dorado airport will re-open, blaming the country’s largest transportation hub for being the main contagion of coronavirus in the country. López also went on to claim that Bogotanos cannot expect any long weekends until the end of the year, and contradicting the government’s official timeline, remarked: “Bogota will remain under quarantine after April 27.”
If Mayor López has her way, residents of Bogotá will not be able to leave the capital to visit towns in the department of Cundinamarca that rely on much needed weekend tourism, claiming that COVID-19 can easily be transferred from the city to rural communities infecting farmers, and ultimately if they get sick, food security for the region and capital. The governor of Cundinamarca Nicolás García agrees with keeping the borders of his department closed.
During a morning talkshow, Mayor López struck a conciliatory tone stating that she would consider letting certain economic groups resume work next week, among them, mechanics, construction workers and bicycle repairers.
The district government’s heavy-handed approach to mitigating the spread of coronavirus has resulted in widespread road blockages in recent days by residents protesting the lack of food in their households. On Sunday, the district hosted a 12-hour donation marathon, dubbed Donatón, which raised COP$52,000 million pesos (USD$13 million) to subsidize aid for 150,000 families living below the poverty line and most affected by the quarantine.
On Monday, 184 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed by the National Institute of Health (INS) raising the national total to 3977. Bogotá has the most cases – 1682 – followed by the department of Valle del Cauca with 683 and Antioquia with 363. The number of fatalities also rose by 10, putting the national total at 189. The first death from COVID-19 was confirmed in Riohacha, capital of the department of La Guajira, as well as fatalities in Ipiales, Santa Marta and Cali. In Bogotá, six more deaths were confirmed by health officials. All the victims, except for a 38-year old man and 79-year old woman, both in Bogotá, had pre-existing medical conditions. The Ministry of Health bulletin states that 804 patients of the coronavirus have recovered. The INS processed 2423 COVID-19 tests in the last 24-hours.