Thursday, January 21, 2021

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Following a nationally televised address last night (May 28), Colombia President Ivan Duque signed “Decree 749” listing 43 industrial, commercial, educational and personal exemptions from the national Covid-19 quarantine starting June 1.

In addition, Transport Minister Angela Orozco announced during the same televised address that international flights to and from Colombia would be allowed starting September 1. Left unexplained is whether, when, how or which of the origin or destination countries actually would allow such flights, or which airlines would participate.

Under the new decree, people 18-to-69-years-old can now perform outdoor exercise three times a week for two hours per day.

Those 70 and older likewise can exercise outdoors three times a week, initially for 30 minutes per day. But this could expand to at least one hour per day following Health Ministry analysis of local or national Covid-19 trends and risks, as outdoor-hours-expansions recently have been extended to other age groups.

In addition, people can use these outdoor excursions for walks with pets, but “only one person per family” is allowed, according to the new decree.

It's still up to local mayors to extend controls such as  "pico y cedula" restrictions for shopping and banking trips. Medellin metro-area mayors likely will make final decisions on "pico y cedula" extensions or revisions this weekend, prior to June 1. But the northern suburb of Bello, Antioquia has already decided to opt-out of "pico y cedula."

Meanwhile, departmental governors and local mayors must coordinate with the Ministry of the Interior on any other possible exceptions following June 1, which potentially might be allowed in certain areas, such as areas without a single case of Covid-19.

However, “mayors with the due authorization of the Ministry of the Interior may suspend the activities or cases” allowed in the list of exceptions.

For example: If any municipality suffers a new outbreak of Covid-19 that might be tied to certain activities, then the Health Ministry will send a report to the Interior Ministry, following which “the Interior Ministry will order the mayor to close the respective activities or cases.”

The decree also bans operation of “establishments and commercial premises for recreation and entertainment, bars, discos, dance, leisure and entertainment and games of gambling and betting, billiards, casinos, bingo and video game terminals,” as well as “gyms, swimming pools, spas, saunas, Turkish baths, spas, sports fields, sports centers, mechanical amusement parks and playgrounds,” as well as “cinemas and theaters, sports and group exercise in public parks and recreation areas, contact sports or practicing together.”

“Religious services involving crowds or meetings [also] will not be allowed,” according to the decree.

According to Decree 749, here are the 43 activities exempt from quarantine:

1.Assistance and provision of health services.

2. Acquisition and payment of goods and services. A single person per family will be allowed to carry out these activities.

3. Assistance and care for children, adolescents, people over 70 years of age, people with disabilities and patients with special treatments that require assistance from trained personnel. When such persons must leave a place of residence or isolation, they may do so accompanied by a person who serves as support.

4. Activities due to force majeure or fortuitous event.

5. The tasks of the medical missions of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and of all international humanitarian and health organizations, the provision of public and private professional, administrative, operational, and technical health services.

6.- The chain of production, supply, storage, transportation, marketing and distribution of medicines, pharmaceuticals, supplies, cleaning products, disinfection and personal hygiene for homes and hospitals, equipment and devices of health technologies, as well as maintenance and support to guarantee the continuous provision of health services. Also included: operation of establishments and commercial premises for the commercialization of medicines, pharmaceuticals, supplies, equipment and devices of health technologies.

7. Activities related to emergency services, including veterinary emergencies.

8. Funeral services, burials and cremations.

9. The chain of production, supply, storage, transport, commercialization and distribution of: inputs to produce basic necessities, including food, beverages, medicines, medical devices, cleaning, cleaning, and goods of ordinary consumption in the population; laboratory reagents; food, medicines and other products for pets, as well as the elements and goods necessary to attend to the sanitary emergency, and the chain of supplies related to the production of these goods.

10. The chain of sowing, fumigation, harvesting, production, packaging, packaging, import, export, transport, storage, distribution and marketing of: seeds, inputs and agricultural, fishing, aquaculture, livestock and agrochemical products including fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and animal feed, maintenance of animal health, the operation of primary and secondary food processing centers, the operation of the commercialization infrastructure, major and minor irrigation for the supply of population and agricultural water, and the technical assistance. The logistics and transportation of the above activities will be guaranteed. Likewise, the maintenance activities of boats and agricultural or fishing machinery.

11. The face-to-face marketing of basic necessity products will be carried out in stores, warehouses, markets, wholesale and retail supermarkets and retail markets in establishments and commercial premises nationwide, and they may market their products through electronic commerce platforms and/or for home delivery.

12. The activities of public servants, government contractors, individuals who perform public functions and other personnel necessary to prevent, mitigate and attend to the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus, and guarantee the operation of governmente services.

13.The activities of the personnel of the diplomatic and consular missions duly accredited to the Colombian State, strictly necessary to prevent, mitigate and attend to the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus.

14. The activities of the military forces, the national Police and state security agencies, as well as the military and defense industry, and officials of the Attorney General's Office and the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences.

15. The activities of public and private service ports, exclusively for cargo transportation.

16. Maritime and river dredging activities.

17. The execution of transport infrastructure works and public works, as well as the supply chain of materials and supplies related to their execution.

18. The activities of the construction sector, execution of civil works and the remodeling of buildings, as well as the supply of materials and supplies exclusively destined for their execution.

19. The air and airport operation in accordance with the provisions of article 8 of the decree, and their respective maintenance.

20. The commercialization of the products of gastronomic establishments and premises, including those located in hotels, through electronic commerce platforms, by home delivery and by take-away delivery.

21. The activities of the hotel industry to serve its guests strictly necessary to prevent, mitigate and attend the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus.

22. The operation of critical infrastructure including computers, computer systems, communication networks, data and information, whose destruction or interference can weaken or impact the security of the economy, public health or a combination of them.

23. The operation of call centers, contact centers, technical support centers and data processing centers that provide services in the national territory and electronic commerce platforms.

24. The operation of the provision of private security and surveillance services, prison and penitentiary services.

25. Cleaning and toilet services, including domestic service and laundry service.

26. The activities necessary to guarantee the operation, maintenance, storage and supply of the provision of public services of aqueduct, sewage, electric energy, public lighting, cleanliness (collection, transportation, use and final disposal, recycling, including biological waste or sanitary) and recovery of materials; of the logistics chain of inputs, supplies for the production, supply, import, export and supply of hydrocarbons, liquid fuels, biofuels, natural gas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG); of the supply logistics chain, supplies for the production, supply, import, export and supply of minerals, and internet and telephone service.

27. The provision of services: banking; financial; payment postal operators; currency buying and selling professionals; operations of [lottery] games of luck and chance in the form of novel and territorial permanent bets; chance and lottery; transport of valuables; notarial activities and registration of public instruments, and issuance of urban planning licenses.

The Superintendent of Notaries and Registry will determine the hours and shifts in which notarial services will be provided, guaranteeing the provision of the service to the most vulnerable people and those with special constitutional protection.

28. The operation of postal, courier, radio, television, press and distribution services of the media.

29. The supply and distribution of basic necessities -- food, beverages, medicines, medical devices, hygiene, cleaning, and goods of ordinary consumption in the population -- under social programs of the State and private persons.

30. The activities of the interreligious sector related to institutional emergency programs, humanitarian, spiritual and psychological aid.

31. The production, supply, storage, repair, maintenance, transport and distribution chain of manufacturing industries.

32. Wholesale and retail trade, including the operation of shopping centers and real estate activities.

33. The activities of operators of payments of wages, fees, pensions, public and private economic benefits; periodic social economic benefits (BEPS), and those corresponding to the Social Security and Social Protection systems and subsystems.

34. The strictly necessary displacement of the directing and teaching staff of public and private educational institutions, to prevent, mitigate and attend to the health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus.

35. In accordance with the measures, instructions and schedules established by the mayors in their respective territorial jurisdictions, and in any case subject to the biosafety protocols established for this purpose, the following will be allowed:

• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of people who are in the age range of 18 to 69 years, for a maximum period of two hours a day.
• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of children over 6 years old, three times a week, one hour a day.
• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of children between 2 and 5 years old, three times a week, half an hour a day.
• Physical activities and outdoor exercise of adults over 70 years, three times a week, half an hour a day.

36. The carrying out of appraisals of goods and carrying out of studies of titles that have the purpose of the constitution of guarantees, before entities supervised by the Financial Superintendence of Colombia.

37. The operation of communal police stations and police inspections, as well as their users.

38. The manufacture, repair, maintenance and purchase and sale of spare parts and accessories for conventional and electric bicycles.

39. Public parking for vehicles.

40. Museums and libraries.

41. Practical and research laboratories of institutions of higher education and education for work and human development.

42. Professional, technical and service activities in general.

43. Hairdressing services.


The Medellin Mayor’s Office announced May 27 that a test reopening program at three shopping malls here confirms that Covid-19 biosafety compliance indeed is feasible -- clearing the way for broader mall reopenings on June 1.

“About 18,000 people [initially] participated in the pilot program to reopen shopping centers in Medellín” that started May 25, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The test reopenings at Oviedo Mall, Mall La Frontera and Gran Plaza attracted some 6,500 shoppers on May 25, another 10,000 on May 26 and thousands more on May 27, according to the Mayor's press bulletin.

“The balance is very positive,” said Medellin’s Secretary for Territorial Management and Control Alejandro Arias García. “People made their purchases, complying with strict biosecurity protocols, respecting authority and acting civilly, which is the perfect combination to create this balance between protecting against the Coronavirus but also protecting employment and the economy,” Arias added.

As a result, “with the compliance of protocols by vendors and visitors, it is estimated that on June 1 other shopping centers will come into operation,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

“Citizens are reminded that those who want to make purchases in these establishments must register on the Medellín Me Cuida platform [see: https://www.medellin.gov.co/medellinmecuida], have the CoronaApp application installed [see: https://coronaviruscolombia.gov.co/Covid19/aislamiento-saludable/coronapp.html]
and activate Bluetooth on their mobile phones to enter,” the Mayor’s Office added.

The “Medellín Me Cuida” and “CoronaApp” platforms enable health officials to contact people who potentially have been exposed to Covid-19 and trace movements of potential Coronavirus carriers.

While some worry about privacy invasion by such applications, others are glad to know that health officials are indeed looking-out for their safety by ensuring prompt alerts of potential or actual infections.

For example: South Korea officials report tremendous success with cell-phone-based Covid-19 data capture, alerts and contact tracing, vastly reducing Coronavirus outbreaks while enabling much-faster economic reopenings.


EPM Social/Environmental Projects Director Ana Milena Joya Camacho revealed in a May 26 meeting with Antioquia departmental officials that 192 workers at the “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project have tested positive for Coronavirus.

Because of this outbreak – first detected among 13 workers on May 12 -- EPM not only has removed, isolated and ensured treatment of all those infected, but also is now testing 100% of all employees at the construction site, Joya said.

In addition, EPM is imposing even stricter biosafety protocols on all workers, beyond the protocols first adopted in March 2020, she said. What’s more, no outsiders will be allowed inside the project site unless cleared of Covid-19 symptoms and tested.

Following the initial outbreak in early May, EPM arranged with Universidad de Antioquia to test all workers. An initial test campaign covering 418 workers on May 16 confirmed seven more Covid-19 cases, according to EPM.

As a result, EPM reported that as of May 16, a total 10 of workers had shown mild symptoms.  “But in case their health requires it, the CCCI Consortium [the construction companies building Hidroituango] together with EPM and health authorities are prepared for their timely and safe posting to the hospital entity indicated by the EPS where the workers are affiliated,” according to the company.

“Through the agreement with the University of Antioquia, tests will continue to be carried out on all of the contractor’s workers to properly guide their efforts in mitigating the pandemic and protecting the health of their community, the families of the workers and the populations of the municipalities of the area of influence,” according to EPM.


The Medellin Mayor’s Office on May 27 unveiled a COP$4.48 trillion (US$1.2 billion) “EcoCiudad” (Eco-City) “Medellín Futuro” four-year budget that includes environmental protection, education, recycling and expansion of zero-emissions transport.

“The capital of Antioquia is committed to increasing protected areas, strategic ecosystems, restoring forest cover and guaranteeing the protection of the watersheds and micro-watersheds that supply it through the payment for environmental services projects,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

The plan will “restore and protect around 3,000 hectares of aqueduct-supplying basins, in addition to strengthening the development of green and sustainable infrastructure that improves the urban quality and ecological conditions of the city.

“For this, the La Aguada Wildlife Refuge will be implemented and the connectivity of forested areas will be increased with 4,000 square meters of green corridors, allowing the movement of animals such as foxes and opossums,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

“The La Perla Animal Welfare Center and the rescue program for major species will be strengthened with comprehensive care for highly vulnerable street pets with rescue services, comprehensive medical care (deworming, vaccination, diagnostic aids, hospitalization, surgery and special care), food, accommodation, microchip implantation and admission to the adoption program.

“The care and population control of pigeons, as well as the management, protection and proper management of bees are also part of the project,” according to the bulletin.

As for the 56 primary streams and 4,161 secondary waterways around the city, “6,000 linear meters of streams will be intervened to reduce flood events in the city,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

As for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction initiatives, “Medellín has developed a greenhouse gas inventory in its alliance with the C40 climate leadership network that serves as a baseline to become carbon neutral by 2050. Actions have been prioritized to reduce emissions by 5% in 2023, 20% by 2030 and 100% by 2050,” according to the bulletin.

As for solid waste minimization, “a pilot plant will be implemented for the reuse of solid waste” along with new training and protection for existing recycling workers.

On yet another front, the project includes aid for plant nurseries, environmental advisory committees, training for the design and implementation of urban eco-gardens and “environmental awareness in the proper separation of solid waste,” according to the bulletin.


Medellin-based construction giant Constructora Conconcreto revealed in a May 26 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera oversight agency that its first quarter (1Q) 2020 net income fell 34% year-on-year, to COP$20 billion (US$5.3 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also fell 16% year-on-year, to COP$44.7 billion (US$11.9 million), while gross income fell 12%, to COP$169.7 billion (US$45 million), according to the company.

While the Covid-19 crisis hurt all construction companies in Colombia because of temporary quarantines and project shut-downs in March, most of the decline in profits this year came from extraordinary gains in 1Q 2019 that were absent in 1Q 2020, according to Conconcreto.

The profit variation “mainly corresponds to the results of 2019 that were affected by around COP$28 billion (US$7.5 million) by the dividends and profits for sale of the CCFC concession,” a one-time event last year, the company explained.

On the other hand, Conconcreto saw 1Q 2020 profit improvements from several other projects and investments “as well as a greater contribution from [commercial real-estate development consortium] Pactia,” according to the company.

Among initiatives to confront the Covid-19 crisis, Conconcreto renegotiated terms on its credit lines and accelerated certain divestments that have been in the works since 2018, according to the company.

“Since the start of the [divestments] plan in 2018, COP$274 billion [US$73 million] in cash has been received,” according to Conconcreto.

On the other hand, “the company has chosen to keep and pay the salaries of employees during the emergency period,” according to Conconcreto.

Construction backlog at end-1Q 2020 totaled COP$1.8 trillion (US$480 million), “which corresponds to around two years of operation,” according to the company.

Infrastructure projects account for 87% of the backlog and 13% in housing/building projects, according to Conconcreto.

In housing, “as of March 31, 2020, there are eight projects under construction, concentrated in Bogotá, Medellín, Neiva and Barranquilla,” according to the company.

These projects include 74 government-subsidized housing units “expected to sell on average in approximately nine months, 455 middle-class units expected to sell on average in 23 months, and 67 upper-income units expected to sell. on average in a period of 21 months,” according to Conconcreto.


Chile-based Latam Airlines – second only to bankrupt Avianca in Colombian air transport dominance -- announced May 26 that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. federal court.

The Covid-19 crisis – banning most air traffic -- forced Latam to absorb impossible losses, the company noted.

For example: Colombia has banned all regular passenger air transport for more than two months, with international flights continuing to be banned through at least August 31 and national flights banned through at least June 30.

“We want our stakeholders to know that we will continue to operate as travel restrictions and demand permit, paying our employees, meeting benefit obligations, and paying critical suppliers as well as respecting ‘Latam Pass’ miles and flight reservations as we work through the Chapter 11 reorganization process,” according to the company.

“In addition, all tickets, vouchers, or any form of credit will continue to be respected. We will also maintain partnerships with existing agencies, abide by corporate loyalty programs and sell tickets through our service platform, and you will be able to continue to interact with our customer service operators as you did prior to this announcement.

“The U.S. Chapter 11 financial reorganization process provides a clear and guided opportunity to work with our creditors and other stakeholders to reduce our debt, address commercial challenges that we, like others in our industry, are facing as a group. Latam will emerge from this process a more efficient, resilient, and ultimately strengthened airline group that is better placed to serve Latin America,” the company added.

The bankruptcy applies to Latam Group and its affiliates in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and the United States, according to the company. "Entities incorporated in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay are not [in bankruptcy], due to the nature of their debt structure and current financial status,” according to Latam.

“Whether included in the filing or not, all of our affiliates are able to operate as travel restrictions and customer demand permit. Our cargo operations have been operating above capacity through these challenging times, and that will not change as a result of our reorganization.

“Through the Chapter 11 protection process, we will pay vendors for all goods and services ordered or delivered after the filing date in the ordinary course and according to our existing terms.

“A key part of the reorganization of the business is the right sizing and shape of the fleet to reflect the current and anticipated market conditions. To support these objectives and protect the value of our group, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to terminate certain leases that no longer serve the best interest of our business from an operational or financial standpoint,” the company added.

 


Medellin-based multinational utilities giant EPM on May 22 posted a COP$276 billion (US$73 million) net loss for first quarter (1Q) 2020 --solely because its debt accounting is in U.S. dollars, rather than in sharply-depreciating Colombian pesos.

“Due to accounting standards and due to the depreciation of the Colombian peso, understanding the debt that the company has in dollars, this accounting loss is generated by re-expressing it to pesos in accounting in Colombia,” according to EPM, 100% owned by the city of Medellin.

“This accounting loss is the result of the historical depreciation of the Colombian peso, which reached 24.03% in March as a consequence of the unusual behavior of world oil prices.

“In this sense, EPM must comply with accounting standards that imply that the depreciation of the Colombian peso leads to an increase in the debt balance in pesos due to the restatement of debt balances in dollars, even when the value owed in dollars does not change. The restatement negatively affects profits and generates high volatility,” the company added.

While depreciation hurts its accounting balance, “borrowing in dollars allows the business group to access the necessary funds to enable investments in infrastructure and growth, which are essential in generating employment,” the company explained.

Despite the accounting loss, EPM nevertheless maintained an investment-grade rating, actually “the highest credit rating among Colombian companies,” it noted.

During 1Q 2020, revenues rose 11% year-on-year, to COP$4.7 trillion (US$1.2 billion), while operating earnings rose 1%, to COP$1.2 trillion (US$318 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 5% year-on-year, to COP$1.5 trillion (US$397 million), with an EBITDA margin of 32%.

“The pandemic caused by the Coronavirus did not impact these figures, since its appearance in the country occurred at the end of the quarter,” according to EPM.

Despite the accounting loss, “these results reflect the health and financial strength of the organization” thanks in part to portfolio diversification, added EPM General Manager Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López.

“Of the COP$4.7 trillion [US$1.2 billion] in revenue as of March 31, 2020, EPM parent company contributed 49%, foreign subsidiaries 34% and national energy and water subsidiaries 17%,” he added.

Meanwhile, profit transfers to the municipality of Medellín in 2020 -- which will reach COP$1.5 trillion (US$397 million) or about COP$29 billion (US$7.7 million) weekly – “generate a decrease in equity as of March. The resources for transfers, which allow for greater social investment in the Antioquia capital, are guaranteed given EPM’s liquidity situation,” the company added.

At the end of 1Q 2020, EPM Group’s assets totaled COP$57.2 trillion (US$15 billion), up 4%, while liabilities totaled COP$34.5 trillion (US$9 billion), up of 12%. Equity now stands at COP$22.7 trillion (US$6 billion), down 6%, according to the company.


Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero announced May 22 via his Twitter account that three different types of malls will be opened to the public here -- under strict biosafety protocols -- starting Monday, May 25, as a run-up to the planned reopening of more malls starting June 1.

According to the Mayor, the three shopping malls – Oviedo (Poblado), La Frontera (Medellin-Envigado border) and Gran Plaza (downtown) -- will enable people to re-experience mall shopping, banned since start of the March quarantine.

However, strict biosafety controls will be enforced to avoid Covid-19 infections.

Besides mandatory use of masks and physical distancing by all employees and all shoppers, the biosafety protocols also will include disinfection stations, body-temperature-takings, data capture and limits on numbers-of-people at points-of-entry.

Personal data including cedula numbers and cell-phone numbers will be captured electronically in order to enable health officials to implement contact tracing and -- if necessary -- order individual quarantines in case of discovery of any Covid-19 infected person that might have come in contact with other shoppers or employees during the day of entrance into the mall.

Colombia’s new national biosafety protocol for shopping malls also limits total-people-access to 30% of capacity, so Medellin will follow those rules as well.


Antioquia’s General Secretary Luis Fernando Suárez announced May 21 that 115 towns in Antioquia that haven’t had a single case of Coronavirus have now been freed from quarantines for nearly all economic sectors.

None of these towns are in the Medellin metro area (Valle de Aburra), however. Nor is the city of Rionegro, where Medellin's international airport is located.

“The Ministry of the Interior gave the guarantee so that the municipalities of the department without Covid-19 cases and located outside the Aburrá Valley can advance in the gradual and safe reactivation of the economy,” according to the official press bulletin from the Antioquia departmental government.

“Although Antioquia is prepared for this new stage, Governor Anibal Gaviria, in a direct dialogue with the 115 mayors of the municipalities located outside the metropolitan area, gave them the freedom to each independently define whether the reopening of their municipality occurs.

“For this, the mayors must issue an administrative act based on the authorization that the Ministry of the Interior has already issued.”

However, “the pandemic is dynamic and every day the scenario changes,” so reopenings can be suspended depending upon future Covid-19 outbreaks, according to the bulletin.

"Every day we must be doing monitoring, measurement and control and it is at this stage that a municipality that was declared 'non-Covid,' the next day may be a 'Covid' municipality, because cases appear,” Suárez added.

“This scenario requires that the mayors who are going to issue the administrative act review the website of the Ministry of the Interior, in a link provided for them, so that upon the certification of [Covid-free] municipalities, a gradual and safe reopening of the economy” can occur.

“Control, monitoring, and compliance with protocols for the gradual opening of the economy are essential, with the use of personal protection measures by people who work in commercial establishments,” the bulletin added.

“We will continue recommending ‘pico y cédula’ [shopping-days rotations], mechanisms that ensure that there are no crowds in establishments and on public roads,” Suarez said.

“The restriction of the educational sector [banning physical attendance at schools] continues until the Ministry of Education authorizes it, just as the restriction for swimming pools and parks, and restaurants can only operate with home-deliveries,” he added.

Meanwhile, Governor Gaviria “has been leading a campaign so that children in the rural areas can return to school due to the [internet] connectivity problems that exist in these areas,” a petition that “awaits the approval of the Education Ministry,” according to the bulletin.

“For this gradual and safe reopening of the economy [in the 115 towns], health checkpoints [on roads] will be strengthened over the next 15 days, to prevent the virus from arriving from other regions, as has happened with the latest registered cases,” the bulletin concluded.


Medellin-based insurance and health-network provider Seguros Sura announced May 21 that it’s expanding a novel home-care testing-and-recovery program for Covid-19 patients.

“The company is a pioneer in this model that already operates in Antioquia, and from next week in Barranquilla, Cali and Bogotá, and then in other cities in the country,” according to Sura.

The scheme “will operate through the ‘Salud en Casa’ Sura home care program and also with other allied medical services of this type,” according to the company.

“The model has a great educational, self-management and interdisciplinary accompaniment component including [services from] professionals in general medicine, nursing, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, infectology, nutrition, respiratory therapy and psychology.

“It includes periodic measurements of blood oxygen saturation levels, postural correction and respiratory therapy. With this, Sura wants to intervene directly in the reduction of two fundamental indicators for the control of the pandemic: mortality and hospital stays, especially in intensive care units (ICU),” according to the company.

“Educating people will allow us to empower them and make them participate in the management of their health and that of their family group,” added Sura EPS general manager Gabriel Mesa Nicholls. “For this we rely on technological advances to intervene early in populations that are symptomatic and require attention. Germany, for example, with a similar model, has achieved mortality levels 50% below the world average,” Mesa explained.

Home-care implementation of the scheme “begins with the delivery of a kit for positive or suspected patients with risk factors for Covid-19, consisting of a pulse oximeter, thermometer and an education plan with very precise and simple instructions for constant monitoring of [blood oxygen] saturation levels and temperature; as well as a guide to postures that patients with symptoms should adopt,” according to the company.

“Based on the data that users will permanently provide from the measurements,via WhatsApp, face-to-face or virtual accompaniments by general medicine doctors and specialists in internal medicine, [subsequent treatment schedules] will be programmed for pediatrics, gynecology, infectology, nutrition or psychology, according to the particular needs of each patient,” according to the company.

“This model benefits the affiliates and policyholders of EPS Sura, Complementary Plan, ARL Sura and Health Policies, and began in Antioquia on May 18.

“It will gradually be extended to the other cities where Seguros Sura Colombia has a presence, through the ‘Salud en Casa’ home-care model or through agreements with other home health service providers.”

Seguros Sura Colombia also processes 600 samples daily (25,000 tests to date) to detect possible Covid-19 infections -- either from patients driving to Sura locations or else at home. The company also is racking-up 9,000 related home-health services daily through virtual care and telecare services, according to the company.


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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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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