Covid-19 Growth in Antioquia Prompts ‘Orange Alert,’ Cancellation of Non-Emergency Surgeries, Dentistry
Acting Antioquia Governor Luis Fernando Suárez Vélez on July 9 issued an “orange alert” as growing Covid-19 cases have now grabbed 50% of intensive care unit (ICU) capacity in Antioquia.
Following the alert, Antioquia Health Secretary Lina María Bustamante Sánchez ordered a department-wide restriction on non-emergency surgeries or dental work in order to ensure more spare ICU capacity.
“Non-urgent surgeries and outpatient procedures will be canceled in order to free more beds of intensive care units,” Bustamante said.
“Obviously, there will be [ICU bed] occupation due to trauma or due to the complication of other pathologies. For this reason, we want to reduce surgeries that are not necessary. We need to free health services, avoid cross-contamination and start to free-up human resources to attend patients diagnosed with Covid-19,” she added.
As a result, as of July 9, new restrictions on health services include “services related to oral health care; outpatient surgeries and non-urgent procedures; [and] external consultations in promotion and prevention procedures and other outpatient services,” according to the order.
“To reduce the risk of contagion in the Department, these measures must be accompanied by actions of individual social responsibility such as reducing levels of mobility, avoiding family gatherings, promoting telework, permanent use of masks, frequent hand washing and social distancing,” the order adds.
“We are going to have more cases — and the system may collapse, so we are taking action today,” Bustamante said. While spare ICU bed capacity still exists here, “occupancy is going to double,” she warned.
“We are having a high number of infections. With the pilot program [of independent workers traveling on the Medellin Metro system now getting Covid-19 tests] we have realized that there is free circulation in the Department and we cannot lose control if health services were to collapse,” Bustamente concluded.
To date, Antioquia accounts for 11% of the total tests for Covid-19 infections in Colombia, according to the national Health Ministry.
On July 9, the Ministry reported 578 new cases of Covid-19 in Antioquia. Since tracking began five months ago, Antioquia cumulatively accounts for 7,825 cases, of which 4,802 are active and 2,954 recovered.