Between 30 and 124 people had already died of COVID-19 in Colombia before health authorities confirmed the first coronavirus infection on March 6, according to the country’s statistics agency.
The first suspected COVID-19 death took place on February 15, more than a month before the first confirmed death on March 21, statistics agency DANE said Thursday.
According to the DANE, 30 people died of the pandemic in February while another 94 suspected deaths that months have yet to be tested by the Health Ministry.
It is unclear why the DANE statistics do not coincide with those of the National Health Institute (INS).
Peak could imply 500 deaths a day
Epidemiologists Guillermo Sanchez and Diego Roselli told weekly Semana they estimated that the number of daily deaths to reach 500 in August when the scholars and the INS believe the pandemic will reach its peak in Colombia.
It’s an estimate. Today we’re averaging about 100 deaths a day. We’d think we’d be hovering around 500 a day. The numbers could accumulate to around 30,000 or 40,000 deaths if we keep up this pace.
Epidemiologists Guillermo Sanchez
According to the epidemiologists, this peak could last approximately a week after which the daily number of deaths will begin to decrease.
The INS announced that it had registered 165 deaths in between Wednesday and Thursday, the highest number to date.
Daily COVID-19 deaths in Colombia
Source: National Health Institute
Public health chief concerned
INS director Martha Ospina, an epidemiologist, reiterated her concern on Thursday about Colombians’ failure to maintain social distancing as the government of President Ivan Duque continues to relax a lockdown that took force on March 25.
This individual isolation is serious and goes for everyone and that’s what worries me. Are we, as Colombians,.. really putting the “if I take take of myself, I take care of others” into practice? Am I really avoiding to go out as much as I can? Do I really maintain distance from other people? I don’t party, don’t hold meetings, I don’t cut corners, I don’t consider myself very clever because I evade measures, I use masks, I wash my hands. Those things are what may save my life, and if not mine that of others, that of my neighbor, that of who I don’t know, that of my own mother. This is very important and has us very worried.
National Health Institute director Martha Ospina
Stay at home orders have been particularly difficult to enforce in poor and hot areas, where people are either forced to go out to make a living or the tropical climate makes staying at home almost impossible to endure.
This has put excessive pressure on healthcare on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and in the Amazon region where healthcare has all but collapsed.