Colombia’s President Ivan Duque extended his country’s stay at home order until May 31 and a health emergency until August 31 as accelerating coronavirus infections put hospitals on the brink of collapse.
In the extra week of lockdown he would announce “fundamental measures” ahead of the reopening of certain retail establishments in June, Duque announced on Tuesday.
The compulsory preventive isolation, as we have imposed to date, will be extended until 31 May. We are going to earn a week that is very important, because in that week we will be taking fundamental measures in terms of adapting to new cycles.
President Ivan Duque
Come June, Duque said he would implement an “intelligent lockdown” that would allow the relaxation of restriction of movement measures, based on regional conditions.
The current lockdown, that took force on May 11, already contains a clause that allows for mayors and governments in areas where there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus to request a relaxation of restrictions.
These regional relaxation measures will be expanded “gradually, of course, recognizing the particularities of provinces and cities, such as population density and the dynamics of the pandemic in these places. The guideline in this time is to continue taking a step forward to recover productive life in issues such as trade, with capacity controls.”
Duque failed to announce any measures to prepare the country’s fragile healthcare system for the expected surge in infections that caused the collapse of healthcare in the southeast of the country and threatens to collapse healthcare in cities like Cartagena and Cali, according to local authorities.
The president and other government officials have made all kinds of announcements during the crisis that ultimately were either discarded, severely limited or made impossible by lower governments.
Duque’s failure to bolster the country’s healthcare capacity and prevent hunger has caused major tensions between the national government, the medical community, and governors and mayors.