Covid Cases in Colombia
The novel coronavirus has had a global impact – its rapid spread has resulted in the whole world being rocked by the Covid19 pandemic. Countries have had to quickly adapt to the ever-changing environment and the effect of Covid on their systems has been wide-ranging.
Colombia is no exception. With over 1.5 million confirmed cases, problems ranging from medical to economic have been observed. In this article, we’ll cover an overview of the current Covid situation in Colombia, and how it’s been affecting its people.
Overview of Covid Infections
Since the first recorded case on March 6, 2020, Colombian authorities have been in a state of vigilance about the potential for a spike in Covid infections. The country has so far seen 1,553,052 confirmed cases, with 36,799 deaths attributed to it.
Covid infections have been rising not just in Colombia, but in the surrounding region of South America as well. According to Worldometers, Colombia’s rate of infection per 100k population is 1,986, while the worldwide rate is 270. This puts recording levels of infections over the past six months at alarmingly high. As a recent report by the Columbia-based World Peace Foundation acknowledges, the country had significantly surpassed the threshold of ‘saturation’ for its medical capacity, and was in danger of facing an overwhelming number of cases which would put additional strain on medical resources
Preventative Measures Taken
Colombia has implemented a number of preventative measures to try and limit the spread of Covid. These include:
• Travel Restrictions: As of July 2020, the entry of foreign citizens into Colombian territory was suspended, and all Colombian travelers must have a PCR test prior to returning to the country. As of August 3rd, 2020, the government suspended air traffic between Ecuador and Colombia.
• Restriction of activities: On March 22nd 2020, President Duque mandated a mandatory national quarantine. This involved the closure of all nonessential activities, including public spaces, as well as a night curfew and the closure of the Colombia-Venezuelan border.
• Use of technology: The government has also taken an approach to utilize technology to track the spread of Covid. Using the ‘Doctor Covid’ app, anyone who records symptoms in the app will be notified if they are at risk of having Covid and can receive additional instructions and guidance from medical personnel.
• Domestic travel: The government has been actively trying to limit the amount of inter-regional travel, and created a ‘green, yellow, red’ color-coded system to indicate the risk associated with different areas of the country. Domestic travel, again, is limited to essential activities and those wishing to travel must follow strict protocols and restrictions, including having a PCR test done.
• Other measures: Face masks have been mandated, and citizens are encouraged to keep a minimum of 1.5 meters distance from others in public places.
Covid and its Effects on Colombia
The effects of Covid on Colombia have so far been tough and multi-faceted. In light of the pandemic, Colombia’s fragile economic situation has only further deteriorated. This can be observed through the decline in GDP – it dropped by 8.2% at the end of 2020, and has since significantly increased again.
The government has had to prioritize the acquisition of medical equipment for hospitals, with the potential for additional strain due to a high number of critical care patients. Below, we take a deeper look at some of the medical, economic, and sociopolitical impacts of the pandemic.
• High number of infected persons: The total number of confirmed cases of Covid for the whole country in 2020 was 1,553,052 and was second only to Peru in the South American region.
• Increase of respiratory diseases: With the collapse of the medical system, many persons are not receiving the care they need for other respiratory diseases, such as tuberculosis. This elevates the risk of further infections and can make controlling the spread of coronavirus even more difficult.
• Shortage of medical personnel: The shortage of medical personnel in Colombia is reaching a critical point, as many of the country’s medical personnel are being contracted to work long shifts in both the public and private systems.
• Problems of overcrowding in hospitals: Some have noted the problem of overcrowding in hospitals, a major issue which may impact the ability of the healthcare system to manage Covid-related cases.
• High unemployment: The Colombian economy has been extremely vulnerable to the effects of Covid, as unemployment has hit in an area where jobs are already scarce. At the end of 2020, the total number of unemployed persons in the country was close to 126 thousand, according to the Colombian National Statistics Department (DANE).
• High poverty: Poverty has also been a major effect of the pandemic, as it decreases people’s ability to cope with crisis. As of January 2021, the official poverty rate of the population stands at 42.1%.
• Gov’t funded services: The government has provided both short-term and long-term measures to try and mitigate the effects of Covid. These include suspending utility bills, providing food vouchers and expanding public services on health, education, and housing and providing direct financial assistance.
• Growing public anger: Despite the effort by the Colombian government to respond to Covid, many Colombians are still dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the crisis. This has resulted in massive protests and civic demonstrations all over the country.
While the Colombian government has been doing its best to mitigate the effects of Covid, it is clear that much more is needed. The country’s medical system is at its limits and its economy has been sent reeling by the pandemic. As the virus continues to spread, the Colombian people need more from their government in order to survive and help keep the country safe.