The gradual reactivation of the economy has accelerated the spread of the coronavirus in Colombia, according to the country’s National Health Institute (INS).
Since April 27, the number of confirmed active infections has gone from 4,101 to 9,288 on Thursday when the INS said it had surpassed 500 confirmed deaths caused by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The real number of infections and deaths is believed to be multiple times that of the confirmed cases as the country is among the countries that have carried out the least number of tests per million inhabitants.
The accelerating growth in the number of cases is causing growing tensions between the national government, local governments and health workers, who have said they are not given personal protection equipment (PPE) that would allow them to responsibly treat patients.
An outbreak is causing a major crisis in Leticia, the capital of the southeastern Amazonas province, which is dealing with 821 active cases while its two public hospitals are in virtual ruins due to rampant corruption and state neglect.
The situation is also becoming increasingly critical in Pacific port cities Tumaco and Buenaventura where healthcare is also scarce.
The health secretary of Caribbean port city of Cartagena, where one in 10 of Colombia’s Covid-19 deaths have been registered, told Spanish news agency EFE it would try to expand its number of intensive care units from 65 to 297 by September.
Local governments in all aforementioned cities have said they are having problems enforcing a lockdown as widespread poverty is forcing people to look for income.
The only city that has been able to lower the number of active coronavirus cases while gradually reactivating economic activity is Medellin, partially by using the rare reagents to declare infected patients healthy in the shortest period of time.
Health Minister Fernando Ruiz told Congress on Wednesday he expected infections to peak in mid June.
The minister, who has received fierce criticism from healthcare organizations, did not say how he planned to curb the exponential growth.