The coronavirus is coming eerily close to collapsing the healthcare system in Colombia’s capital Bogota, which saw its intensive care unit availability drop from 50% to 30% in just 10 days.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said Wednesday the government had sent out the first 130 new ventilators that would expand the hospitals’ capacity to treat life-threatening COVID-19 cases from 771 to 901.
The admission of at least 108 critical cases over the past 10 days, left the capital with 250 ICU’s available.
If the available ICU capacity drops to below 25%, the city hall will declare a red alert, according to the city’s Health Secretary Alejandro Gomez. A red alert would imply a reversal of lockdown relaxations, according to the mayor.
Against the advice of economists and epidemiologists, the government of President Duque has been prioritizing the reactivation of the economy, which has accelerated coronavirus infections and is depleting Bogota’s healthcare capacity.
Three and a half months after the National Health Institute (INS) confirmed the first coronavirus infection, Duque did not provide extra ventilators to the capital until Saturday, a day after ordering a tax-free sales day that drew massive crowds to retail stores,.
Bogota on its way to collapse?
The government’s slow response to the pandemic has collapsed healthcare in the southeast in the country and has all but collapsed healthcare in the west.
Cities along the Caribbean coast are also in crisis which is slowing down Duque’s economic reactivation. Barranquilla on Monday reported 39 deaths, more than half of the 73 reported in all of Colombia.
In Bogota, a city of 7 million people, 21,541 have been confirmed infected by the INS, which has also confirmed 490 COVID-19 deaths since March.
The real numbers of infections and deaths are likely higher as the government has also been lagging behind in testing.
Lopez getting impatient with Duque
Clearly agitated, Lopez said on Twitter that “we are confident that more partial deliveries will arrive every two weeks to meet the agreed ICU extension! Thank you!”
The Bogota Mayor has been a fierce critic of the president since she took office in January and tensions between the two have been growing as the health crisis worsened.
Other mayors and healthcare organizations are also increasingly desperate about Duque’s response, whose apparent rush to restart the economy could trigger another lockdown.
According to the latest projection of the INS, the peak of the pandemic will be in the second half of August, less than two weeks before the end of a national emergency.