As President Duque returned from a three-day state visit to Korea, and first for a Colombian leader in a decade, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Thursday 1,935 new coronavirus cases, and lowest per day number since June 16, 2020, with 1,868. The deceleration in daily cases also lowered active cases to 29,954.

The Ministry’s daily report also confirmed 93 additional fatalities from the virus, raising the death toll to 124,567. Bogotá registered the most number of fatalities (15), followed by the departments of Valle del Cauca (14), Antioquia (13), Tolima (5) and Atlántico (4). Coronavirus cases have been decelerating nationwide since the peak of the third wave on June 26, with 33,596.

The drop in infections comes as the government will expand as of Saturday coronavirus vaccine coverage to minors age 12 to 14. The announcement was made by President Duque at the Seoul National University Hospital where he met with leading epidemiologists and vaccine researchers.

The Colombian government also signed agreements with the Korean pharmaceutical company SK Bioscience and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to help manufacture the coronavirus vaccine GBP510 in 2022. “The agreement is about working together to start a facility in Colombia for vaccine research and development,” stated Health Minister Fernando Ruíz to the Korea’s JoongAng Daily. “The last time Colombia produced vaccines was in 2001, so our main objectives of this trip includes technological transfers […] and assessing what kind of projects we can feasibly do together.”

The media group also highlighted Ruíz’s trajectory as an infectious disease expert during the Chikungunya outbreak in 2015 and Zika in 2016. “Colombia is reported to have suffered the highest number of suspected cases of Chikungunya in the Americas. But what Minister Ruíz didn’t foresee was that he would be dealing with a pandemic from his third day on the job,” wrote Esther Chung. Ruíz reiterated that despite Colombia’s positive trend in low new rates in contagion “we are still fighting the pandemic, and no country is free from it yet,” he said.

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