Colombia’s government said it would lift a quarantine in place to slow down the spread of the coronavirus citing faulty statistics and twisting the words of a leading scientist.
President Ivan Duque and Health Minister Fernando Ruiz used the president’s Facebook broadcast to announce the relaxation of the restrictions on April 27 only to see increased tensions.
Ruiz cited Imperial College epidemiologist Zulma Cucunuba to claim that “given the results in the transmission rate that we have in Colombia we can say that we are already in a ‘stage of suppression.”
Such a “stage of suppression” would allow the lifting of restrictions of the economic activity of those who can’t work from home.
“Still a long way to go, unfortunately”
The scientist immediately responded, pointing out the health minister was twisting her words.
“I said that quite possibly we will be entering a suppression stage,” said Cucunuba, adding that “there’s still a long way to go, unfortunately.”
Only if there is a sufficient number of hospitals, ICUs, diagnostic tests, and a sustained level of social contact reduction will it be possible to care for the population that becomes ill.
Imperial College epidemiologist Zulma Cucunuba
Colombia’s health workers don’t even have masks and the country’s hospitals are weeks away from having enough ventilators that would allow them to attend a large number of patients.
The Bogota Medical College added Ruiz presented a “false epidemiological profile” of reality based on “subregistration and the lack of carrying out mass tests.”
Local and regional governments, who have been imposing stricter restrictions than the national government, ignored Duque and his minister.
Medical community calls on governors to ignore Duque
As if the scientists’ rebuttal wasn’t enough, the vice-president of the Colombian Medical Federation (FMC) said that health workers will not obey the government’s forced labor decree and act according to medical ethics.
FMC President Sergio Isaza told W Radio that the government was “mocking Colombia’s doctors” hours after the medical community wrote to Duque they had no confidence in the health minister.
Isaza called on governors and mayors to maintain their quarantines and said the government should first revoke part of the decree that forces the doctors and nurses to work without any security guarantees.
We are not bound by a decree, but by the oath we took when we graduated, not under the threat of any sanction.
Colombian Medical Federation president Sergio Isaza
“We are not cannon fodder,” medical personnel said on Twitter.
The president’s clothes
The president’s controversial handling of the coronavirus crisis has made him powerless.
Regional and local authorities are deciding for themselves what measures they take to protect the health of their constituents and the doctors already made it clear that “nobody can force us to commit suicide.”
Meanwhile, watchdog agencies stopped the government aid program after finding that the National Planning Department was sending emergency stipends meant for the poor to ghost accounts.
Duque’s latest attempt to unilaterally take decisions in regards to the pandemic showed again the president has no clothes.