Colombia enters fourth wave with Omicron and Delta

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Scene at a vaccination point in Barcelona, Spain. EFE/Enric Fontcuberta

Colombia has entered the fourth wave of coronavirus infections with circulation of both the Delta and Omicron variants confirmed the country’s Minister of Health Fernando Ruíz on Wednesday, as new per day cases continue to increase.

On Wednesday, Colombia registered 6,326 cases compared to 4,306 on Tuesday. Active cases have more than doubled from lows averaging 11,000 during most of December to 24,997 in the last 24 hours. The departments that reported the highest numbers of infections for Wednesday are Antioquia with 1,864 and Valle del Cauca with 1,587. Bogotá confirmed 1,541.

Wednesday’s 6,326 cases are the highest since August 5 with 6,540.

The increasing numbers of infections, however, are not resulting in higher mortality rates, given that on Wednesday, Colombia reported 33 deaths, and number similar to 35 on Tuesday. The death toll from the virus since the start of the pandemic stands at 129,866. The total number of infections is 5.138,603.

“Genomic diagnosis is based on days, but we now have to take a series of measures and recommendations especially to be able to address this new variant in the country and its affectation,” said Ruiz.

Omicron was detected in Colombia on December 20.

Although there is no certainty as to what may happen in this new peak, Ruiz highlighted that Colombia has a high level of protection thanks to the vaccination roll-out with more than 64 million vaccines administered, including 3 million as boosters. Colombia’s vaccine coverage has reached 75% of the population with one dose, and 54% of the population having completed a double-dose scheme, ranking the country, according to the latest data from Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking, sixth among the world’s Top Ten. According to Bloomberg, Chile takes the No. 1 spot as the second-most vaccinated population in the world, “reflecting a turnaround seen across a region that was devastated by the original (coronavirus) virus.”

Minister Ruíz stressded that “vaccination will remain our best defense against coronavirus and variants, adding that during the New Year “citizens have to be very responsible, by avoiding crowds, wearing masks and reinforcing their vaccination schemes.”

Colombia’s per day infections, however, pale in comparison with record breaking cases across Europe, U.K and U.S, where the rapid spread of Omicron has resulted in flight cancellations and travel delays over the holiday season, as well as PCR testing shortages and restrictions to prevent crowds gathering for New Year’s celebrations.

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