Thousands of Bogotanos defy lockdown as coronavirus cases nationwide reach 378

Colombia desperately wants to flatten the coronavirus curve with a 19-day nationwide quarantine that starts 12:00 am Wednesday and ends at the same time on April 13.

As the first decree in the history of the nation that restricts personal liberties given a   pandemic, President Iván Duque hosted a live roundtable discussion with members of his cabinet that was broadcast to the nation. Allowing Ministers to respond to specific questions as to the scope and objectives of the 19-day quarantine, President Duque reassured Colombians that by staying home the lives of the most vulnerable can be saved. Duque also insisted Decree 457 would give parents a rare opportunity to spend time with their children, strengthening family ties, even if quarantine means virtual communication with the elderly. “We have thought of all sectors of society, all Colombians, and our motivation is to protect life and health; the most vulnerable; employment. Our motivation is to give everything for you,” remarked President Duque.

Calling on national unity during the COVID-19 emergency, President Duque stressed that  there is “no space for protagonism, disputes or fighting. We are all united as Colombians.”

Since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country on March 5, the curve has been climbing steadily with an average of 20 cases confirmed every day. A worrisome trend that forced Bogotá’s Mayor Claudia López to enact a quarantine simulation for the capital’s 9 million inhabitants days before the United Kingdom and India announced complete lockdowns.

With 407,000 cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide, and death toll that reached 18,200 on Tuesday, in the Colombian capital, thousands filled TransMilenio stations to run errands defying the last day of López’s quarantine drill, and hours before the nationwide shutdown will be enforced with decree 457. Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants, street vendors and recyclers filled the city’s central square Plaza de Bolívar demanding the government provide them with essential foods and medicines during the Obligatory Isolation Order.

Persons who violate quarantine face a $9,800.000 peso fine (US$2500), and possible arrest with a four-to-eight year prison sentence.

On Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country climbed to 378 from Monday’s 306. Three patients have died from the virus and six recovered.