Covid-19 Intensive Care Units, Ventilators Continue to Expand in Antioquia, Colombia
Antioquia Acting Governor Luis Fernando Suárez announced June 30 that another 130 intensive care unit (ICU) beds will debut in Antioquia by July 11 to handle a potential future surge of critical Covid-19 victims.
The latest expansion is part of a plan to have at least 909 ICU beds available over the coming weeks, with a peak demand seen possibly emerging at end-July or early-August, he said.
While Medellin specifically and Antioquia generally currently have spare ICU capacity for critical Covid-19 cases, “we must say that the days to come are very difficult because the pandemic is in full swing and every day we have a greater number of infected people, and every day human lives are lost,” Suárez warned.
Today, about half of the Covid-19 patients in Medellin ICU’s aren’t from Antioquia, but rather from neighboring Choco department, Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero noted. Likewise, available ICU’s throughout Antioquia “are for Colombians” and not just for local people, Suárez added.
While 42% of ICU beds are now occupied in Antioquia, “with the opening of these new ICUs that percentage will drop,” Suárez explained.
“Our initial inventory of ICU beds was 480, of which 240 were left exclusively for Covid patients, and this morning [June 30], 64 of them were in use,” he added.
While Antioquia has suffered 25 fatalities from Covid-19 so far this year, “the numbers will continue to increase,” Suárez warned. As a result, aside from boosting ICU capacity, “everyone should take the best decision to protect oneself adequately, by washing hands, wearing face masks, and maintaining social distance,” he said.
Meanwhile, as of June 30, Colombia’s Health Ministry had recorded a nationwide cumulative total of 97,946 cases of Covid-19 since tracking started five months ago.
Bogota continues to have the most cases at 30,017, followed by Atlantico (23,360); Cali/Valle del Cauca (9,974 ); Bolivar (9,116); Antioquia (4,442); Nariño (3,443); Cundinamarca (2,709); Amazonas (2,299); Choco (1,544); Sucre (1,255); and Meta (1,250), according to the Health Ministry.
While Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez has continued to criticize Colombia President Ivan Duque for allegedly insufficient deliveries of more ventilators for future Covid-19 critical cases, ironically it’s Mayor Lopez that has been the slowest among all big-city Colombian mayors to seek out and buy ventilators on their own account — beyond what the national government is already providing.
For example: Colombia Health Minister Fernando Ruiz pointed out in a nationally televised broadcast on June 29 that Cali/Valle del Cauca mayors and health officials have recently purchased 300 ventilators in addition to the ventilators provided by the federal government. Cundinamarca mayors likewise bought another 152 ventilators, while Medellin and Antioquia bought 130 and Córdoba 107. Yet over the same time, Bogotá bought only 73 ventilators on its own account.
What’s more — contradicting the constant complaints from Bogota Mayor Lopez — the Colombian government on June 30 just delivered another 305 ventilators to Bogota — a month ahead of schedule. So, as a result, Bogota now has 430 of the 722 ventilators that the national government has committed to giving to Bogotá between now and August, Health Minister Ruiz pointed out. What’s more, Bogota is getting far more ventilators from the federal government than any other city in Colombia.
In addition, if Bogota suffers an exceptionally big surge in critical Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks, then the Health Ministry will accelerate delivery of even more ventilators to Bogota, Ministry Ruiz added.
Thanks to this new surge of ventilator deliveries — and promises of more to come — Mayor Lopez announced July 1 that she has decided to withdraw her previous demand that President Duque should authorize Bogota to reimpose in July the extreme quarantine measures earlier imposed nationwide in March and April.