The coronavirus has infected more than a million people in Colombia and killed at least 30,000, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
The real number is likely higher, according to the statistics agency DANE, which estimated earlier this week that 20% of deaths are not reported.
The number of deaths is in line with the projection of the National Health Institute, which expected earlier this year that the pandemic would kill approximately 40,000 people by the end of the year.
The only countries in the hemisphere that have reported more deaths are the United States and Brazil whose population is significantly larger than that of Colombia.
Per capita, however, the fatality rate reported by Colombia’s is slightly below the average in the Americas where nine of the world’s 20 hardest hit countries are located.
Coronavirus deaths per million in the Americas
- Peru | 1,034
- Bolivia | 739
- Brazil | 738
- Chile | 727
- Ecuador | 711
- Mexico | 679
- Argentina | 633
- Panama | 609
- Colombia | 560
“An avoidable health catastrophe”
The pandemic caused an “avoidable health catastrophe” in the South American country, the vice-president of the Colombian Medical Federation (FMC), Carolina Corcho. said Saturday.
The health expert blasted the government of President Ivan Duque for completely ignoring Congress and health experts to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
“Our civil society organizations have delivered concrete proposals to the National Government on how to face the pandemic from a public health perspective; we have not even received a protocol response,” said Corso.
A slap in the face to those 30 thousand Colombians who have lost their lives and their families in this health debacle, an affront to the 700 thousand health workers who expose their lives daily to lessen the effects of the pandemic, a insult to the millions of Colombians who are waiting for profound changes and for their fundamental right to health to be guaranteed.
FMC vice-president Carolina Corcho
The “bad strategy”
Opposition Senator Juan Luis Castro, a physician, blamed the high number of deaths on the government’s “bad strategy,” primarily because of its chronic failure to test the population, which would allow the early detection and isolation of people who are infected.
The government’s failure to secure basic necessities like food made the lockdown that was decreed in March became unsustainable without any mechanism in place to detect and respond to outbreaks, said Castro.
Embattled Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said Saturday that a so-called “Testing, Tracking and Sustainable Isolation” program had been in place for months only to contradict himself, claiming that “this new service will be available to all Colombians.”
The government’s primary focus has been on reopening the economy, which is has been complicated by the fact that both the global economy and domestic consumption have collapsed, and new infection waves in northern America and Europe.
Following a peak in infections and deaths in August, the spread of the virus has since been relatively stable with approximately 7,500 infections and 170 deaths a day.
Local authorities, however, are expecting a second wave in the coming weeks.