Mayors throughout Colombia are reinstating stay at home orders and curfews amid fears the holidays could trigger an uncontrollable coronavirus outbreak and collapse hospitals.
The measures follow a sharp increase in registered coronavirus infections and a surge in hospitalizations that threaten to collapse municipal healthcare facilities.
Bogota’s stay at home order
The mayor of the capital Bogota, Claudia Lopez, on Monday reluctantly reinstated a stay at home order that allows private enterprises like banks and supermarkets to only attend those who are allowed outside.
Lopez additionally insisted that those who want to spend Christmas with their families should enter a voluntary quarantine to prevent that these traditional family celebrations spark a new wave of COVID hospitalizations.
The reinstated stay at home order will last until January 15, according to the Mayor’s Office.
No Christmas for Medellin
Daniel Quintero, the mayor or Colombia’s second largest city Medellin, additionally extended a curfew until January 2, allowing nobody outside between 8PM and 6AM.
The city’s display of Christmas decorations, a popular attraction during the holidays, will also be suspended until the first week of January, Quintero said Monday morning.
Quintero had already warned he may be forced to take extreme measures after the formal beginning of Christmas on December 7 was followed by a rapid saturation of hospitals in the city.
Cali reluctant as hospitals bordering collapse
Cali Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina also imposed a stay at home order, but wouldn’t go as far as his counterpart in Medellin despite hospitals being on the brink of collapse.
According to local newspaper El Pais, more than 91% of the city’s intensive care units are full.
The Colombian Medical Federation considers any hospital system with a saturation over 90% in a state of collapse because it complicates the provision of emergency medical care.
Holiday surge major blow for national government
The surge presumably caused by the celebration of the holidays is a major blow for the government of President Ivan Duque.
The government has been trying to reactivate the economy after a month-long lockdown in April under pressure by powerful business associations.
This strategy is now suffering a major setback with the country’s three largest economic hubs reversing relaxation measures.
The surge of infections in the United Kingdom attributed to the appearance of a coronavirus strain that is suspected to be more infectious forced Duque to ban all travel from and to the Britain on Sunday.