As Colombians celebrated Independence Day – Veinte de Julio – without the traditional military parade on the streets of Bogotá due to the coronavirus pandemic, the country registered on Monday, an additional 6,727 infections, raising the national total to 204,005.
After a grim start to the long holiday weekend when on Friday the Ministry of Health confirmed 8,934 new cases of COVID-19 and 259 fatalities, marking one of the worst days since the outbreak early March, on Saturday, the epicenter of the contagion shifted to Barranquilla where the port city registered more than 3,600 cases. The epicenter however reversed back to Bogotá on Sunday with 2,867 infections.
Monday, in turn, gave residents of the capital a slight respite from worrisome coronavirus numbers as the Colombian Air Force saluted the city during a flyover with its Boeing 767 “Júpiter” and flanked by Kfir combat aircraft. The crew of Júpiter repatriated hundreds of Colombians stranded in Wuhan, China, during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city.
During a day in which a new legislative session of Congress was installed – and one that sets a historic precedent by being almost all virtual – President Duque addressed lawmakers, laying out an agenda of planned reforms to the judiciary and commitment to fight corruption. President Duque also thanked the thousands of frontline healthcare workers who every day put their lives at risk.
“We all have to protect the lives of people, the lives of jobs and the lives of companies. Without health there is no development and without development there is no health.” President Duque’s words echoed those made during a medal hand-over ceremony at Casa Nariño in the morning to tribute family members of the armed services who lost loved ones in combat.
Duque also thanked Colombians overseas for “always carrying that yellow, blue and red tricolor in their hearts.” In a direct reference to a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 607,000 worldwide, President Duque highlighted that “in every corner where there is a Colombian, there is joy, there is strength, verraquera, resilience, motivation, ingenuity and creativity.”
While new coronavirus cases showed a slight lowering in Barranquilla and Cartagena, Bogotá registered 2,326 cases on Monday, and also down from Sunday’s 2,806. Colombia has been processing an average of 25,000 PCR tests per day, with expanded capacity this week to 30,000. The number of recovered patients jumped close to 4,000, putting the new total at 91,793. And while mortality remains high in hospitals across the country, Monday, also saw a slight lowering to 193 victims putting the new death toll at 6,929.
President Duque begins a challenging week to continue with gradual economic recovery amidst the pandemic, after Bogotá Mayor Claudia López called on the Executive to reimpose a strict city-wide quarantine given that intensive care occupancy is close to 90% in both public and private hospitals – or 1,230 beds allocated to critically ill COVID-19 patients from a total 1,342.
According to the Johns Hopkins global coronavirus counter, Colombia ranks among the 20 nations with most cases of infection, above Germany with 203,325 cases and behind Bangladesh with 207,453 cases.