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Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz Urges Covid-19 Biosafety Compliance during June 24 National Broadcast Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz Urges Covid-19 Biosafety Compliance during June 24 National Broadcast Source: Ministerio de Salud

Medellin Overwhelmingly Complies with Covid-19 Protocols, but Irresponsible Individuals Threaten National Recovery

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Medellin and certain other parts of Colombia are now recognized nationally and internationally for outstanding efforts to minimize Covid-19 outbreaks while carefully reopening commercial and industrial sectors -- saving millions of jobs and avoiding economic disaster.

However, a relatively few irresponsible people are threatening to wreck the great sacrifices and personal discipline performed by the vast majority, as Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz announced June 24 in a nationally televised address accompanied by Colombia President Ivan Duque.

Minister Ruiz and President Duque cited irresponsible social behavior in certain areas of some cities during the recent tax-free sales day (June 19) as well as the just-ended Father’s-Day three-day weekend, where police broke-up more than 3,000 illegal crowds and reckless parties -- 200 of which were in mainly low-income neighborhoods in Medellin.

“This leads us to the conclusion that we really have to put a brake on these cases and that we must work harder on self-care,” Ruiz said.

In the past two months, cases of irresponsible behavior including mass gatherings, drinking-and-dancing parties, lack of social distancing and failure to use face masks caused serious outbreaks of Covid-19 and scores of deaths, especially in the Caribbean coastal cities of Cartagena and Barranquilla, Ruiz noted.

But follow-up crackdowns by the Health Ministry in coordination with local mayors and police have since helped to quell these outbreaks and dampen the rise of fatalities in certain cities, he noted.

“Through targeted actions, intervention in [Covid-outbreak] neighborhoods, agreements between the EPS [health-care networks] to carry out massive testing, isolation and increasing our attention span has generated [better] results,” according to the Ministry.

“We do not claim victory, but [outbreak] cases have been reduced significantly,” according to Ruiz. “Already in Cartagena [Atlantico department] and Leticia [Amazonas department] we have seen 33% of those infected already recovered.”

Barranquilla likewise “has to do the same: [epidemiological] fences in neighborhoods and actions that invite social discipline,” he added.

As for the massive increase in shopping during the special June 19 tax-free shopping day in Colombia, most commercial establishments and most shoppers complied with Covid-19 biosafety protocols, he noted.

However, certain shopping areas in some cities – especially those offering huge discounts on home appliances, computers, televisions and cell-phones – saw overflow crowds, which sometimes defeated social-distancing, he said.

So, for the next two tax-free shopping days scheduled in July, “electronic [internet] purchasing and other mechanisms will have to be increased to be able to contain” overcrowding, he warned.

“It is very difficult to keep the population in isolation on a mandatory basis, so we have to generate more capacity for self-care -- and that only develops by opening the economy gradually and that the population demonstrate their capacity [for biosafety compliance] and learning, “ Ruiz concluded.

Medellin Mayor’s Office Praises General Compliance

Meanwhile, according to the Medellin Mayor’s Office, “almost all of the commercial establishments reported a positive [tax-free-sales] day thanks to compliance with all biosafety regulations.

“Despite this, a chain store located in the city center had to be closed preventively due to non-compliance with its protocols. The municipal administration accomplained health authorities to control this situation and protect the integrity of citizens.”

Medellin Secretary of Economic Development Alejandro Arias García added that “merchants tell us that they have increased their sales five times compared to what they had been reporting in recent weeks. This is very positive because it reaffirms that citizens believed in this event, are privileging online shopping and, in most cases, having exemplary behavior at points of sale.”

According to commercial trade association Fenalco Antioquia and Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, local retailers saw a 30% increase in sales even compared to a typical day before the Covid-19 pandemic started four months ago.

Meanwhile, since Covid-19 tracking started four months ago, Colombia’s Health Ministry has now recorded a cumulative total of 77,113 cases nationally, with 2,491 deaths and 31,671 recoveries (as of June 24).

Bogota is worst at 23,367 cases, followed by Atlantico (17,972); Cali/Valle del Cauca (8,342); Bolivar (7,473); Antioquia (3,239); Nariño (2,814); Amazonas (2,220); Cundinamarca (2,182); Magdalena (1,390); Meta (1,159); and Choco (1,148).

Of the Antioquia cases, Medellín to date accounts for about one-third of the departmental total: 1,321 cases, of which 665 are still active, 649 recovered and seven deaths.

Antioquia Government Urges Self-Quarantines

Meanwhile, the departmental government of Antioquia announced June 24 that any shoppers who ignored social distancing at certain locations during the tax-free shopping day (June 19) now ought to remain at home for the next 14 days.

“The incubation time for the virus that produces Covid-19 can be from two to 14 days,” the Antioquia departmental bulletin noted.

“This is the time between the day of infection and the day of symptom onset. People can transmit the virus starting two days before presenting symptoms. Therefore, if you were infected on Friday, June 19, it is possible that you will start transmitting the infection to others from today and in the following days, even if you do not have symptoms yet.

“Based on these scientific data, we want to invite all people who attended shopping last Friday (June 19) and who were anywhere when infection-prevention measures were neglected to follow the following recommendations:

“1. Stay home in the next 14 days. Avoid going to appointments or to the market. If you have scheduled surgeries, then postpone them. Use electronic means to do meetings and errands.

“2. Wear a surgical mask and do not remove it while you are away from home, and even more so if you have people within two meters.

“3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or glycerinated alcohol.

“4. Immediately notify your Covid-19 hotline if you develop a fever, cough, shortness of breath, general muscle pain, headache, sore or sore throat, loss of smell or taste.

“5. If you live with people over the age of 70 or who suffer from hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic lung disease, cancer or immunosuppression, avoid approaching them within two meters in the following 14 days. If these people are scheduled for surgery, then they are also recommended to postpone their surgeries.”

Read 245 times Last modified on Last modified on June 25 2020

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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