April 13, 2024
Other Norms

Colombia’s Leading Medical Associations Slam ‘Total Reopening’ Decisions by Mayors as Covid-19 Cases Grow, Hospital Overflows Worsen

The Asociación Colombiana de Medicina Interna (ACMI) and dozens more of Colombia’s leading medical associations on June 7 issued a joint declaration slamming decisions by various mayors in Colombia — including Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero — declaring a “total reopening” of all businesses and mass events starting today (June 8) – even while Covid-19 cases are actually growing and many hospitals are jammed to overflowing.

The groups also slammed Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz for issuing the new “Resolution 777” that conditionally allows reopening of virtually all business sectors and mass events except for cities with 85% or more occupation of intensive care units (ICUs), as currently is the unfortunate situation in Medellin and Antioquia.

However, Medellin as of today seems to be side-stepping the “85% rule.”

Making the public-health situation worse is the never-ending series of mass protest gatherings organized by the “Comite del Paro,” which includes various left-wing politicians, trade unions, some student groups and – overwhelmingly — hundreds of thousands of young people left unemployed by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Colombia today is among the top-10 nations in the world with the greatest number of Covid-19 cases, having doubled the daily case rate just in the last 40 days, the medical groups note.

With a reported 3.1% mortality rate for Covid-19 cases in Colombia, this means that in the next few weeks, Covid deaths could rise to between 500 to 800 people daily, according to the medical groups.

Meanwhile, emergency-room services in hospitals in Colombia’s main cities are already 200% to 300% over-crowded, and ICU occupancy is well over 90% in Medellin and Bogota, according to the medical groups.

On top of all these problems, “more than 40% of health professionals present alarming levels of burnout, anxiety, depression and physical stress,” according to the groups.

Meanwhile, according to a June 7 bulletin from the departmental government of Antioquia, Medellin alone reported 1,063 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, just under half of the 2,297 new cases department-wide.

“Antioquia has an ICU bed occupancy percentage of 96.71%,” the Antioquia government bulletin added.

Ironically, Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero issued a press bulletin June 5 bragging about the “total reopenings” starting today (June 8).

“The artistic and cultural sector will have a reopening of large capacity gatherings to 100%, with the biosafety measures approved by the national government,” according to the Mayor’s official press bulletin.

Among those upcoming events: the 15th annual “International Tango Festival” from June 24 to 30; the annual Medellin Flower Festival and Silleteros Parade from August 12 to 22; and the large-crowds “Colombiamoda” and “Colombiatex” trade shows at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center, he said.

In the case of the Tango Festival concerts, “we are going to have some stands for people who are vaccinated and others for those who are not vaccinated, and we are going to have different distances” between people to help avoid more infections, Mayor Quintero stated.

Vaccination Rate Growing

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Health Ministry announced June 4 that at least 17 million Colombians should have gotten at least one dose of Covid vaccine by end-June.

While more than 11 million Colombians have already gotten at least one dose, vaccination rates are increasing to a range of 200,000 to 300,000 people daily, according to the Ministry.

Health Vice-Minister Luis Alexander Moscoso added that “it would seem illogical to generate a [total economic] reopening, but precisely these are the moments in which we have to build the future” as Colombia faces the twin crises of massive unemployment among youth along with high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry director of prevention Gerson Bermont added that the “Comite del Paro” demonstrations and road blockades over the past four weeks have exacerbated Covid-19 problems.

“There were difficult days when we were not able to bring vaccines to IPS [hospitals and clinics] or to municipalities due to the blockades,” Bermont stated.

Despite the violent protest actions, Colombia nevertheless has managed to import 16.2 million doses of vaccines, of which 14.3 million doses have been delivered to various cities and territories and more than 11 million doses have been applied, including about 3.5 million second doses, he noted.

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