A third surge in COVID-19 infections is collapsing hospitals in Colombia as if the coronavirus pandemic were a game of dominoes.
The University Hospital, one of Medellin‘s largest, said Tuesday that its intensive care units and hospital beds are full, and that it could no longer provide emergency care.
Medellin ombudsman William Yeffer Vivas said in the evening that almost 98% of the city’s intensive care units (ICU’s) are full and that more than 100 people were waiting for others to either die or recuperate.
Vivas also criticized the government of President Ivan Duque whose National Vaccination Plan has been plagued by the administration’s trademark misrule.
Coronavirus infections and deaths
Medellin heading for disaster
The regional branch of the National Association of Internists and Resident Physicians (ANIR) begged the national government and Governor Luis Fernande Suarez to impose a two-week lockdown, claiming that “the pandemic is out of control.”
The emergency, hospitalization capacity, intensive care and medium care units have collapsed.”
Antioquia branch of the National Association of Internists and Resident Physicians
“The hospital collapsed,” a nurse from the Fundadores hospital said Sunday already after the baker from across the street observed the growing number of people waiting for medical attention and asked: “shouldn’t you be at work?”
The hospital collapses in Medellin and cities in the Caribbean region come weeks before an expected surge in hospitalizations as a consequence of the Holy Week, one of the most important religious events of the year.
The ANIR fiercely criticized Duque and his Health Minister Fernando Ruiz for misinforming the public about the progress of their troubled vaccination drive.
Ruiz insisted in Congress that the government will continue to try to vaccinate 35 million people before the end of the year despite being unable to execute the unprecedented vaccination drive.
We always committed ourselves to start the National Vaccination Plan in February, and we fulfilled it. Now our commitment continues to be that all 35 million Colombians will be vaccinated by 2021.
National Vaccination Plan progress
Killing Colombia’s labor force
Epidemiologist Yessica Giraldo told newspaper El Tiempo that there has been an alarming rise in the hospitalizations and deaths of people between 20 and 59 who are considered a low-risk group by the government and the bulk of the labor force.
The most serious infections and cases are being seen in the mainly productive population, the people who make up the labor and productive force of the country, which if you look at the data of the [National Health Institute] INS are between 40 and 49, followed by 30-39 and even 20 to 29. Not to mention that there has also been a slight increase in the affectation of adolescents with respect to what we were dealing with, although not so drastic.
Epidemiologist Yessica Giraldo
The observations made by Giraldo coincide with those made by analysts in Brazil who claim that data indicates that a coronavirus strain from that country is not only more infectious, but more dangerous for younger people.
This is further aggravating tensions between Colombia’s employers, who don’t want to close their factories an shops, and the country’s employees, who might consider their lives more valuable than a $250/month minimum wage.