Colombia’s healthcare system is being put to the ultimate test as the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have reached its peak in the country’s biggest cities.
According to the healthcare ministry, more than 12,800 people have died since the first infection of the coronavirus was confirmed on March 6.
This human cost of the pandemic is likely considerably higher due to a delay in testing, saturated healthcare systems and government attempts to downplay the gravity of the situation.
Statistics agency indicated deaths may be double
Statistics agency Dane said Saturday that COVID-19 killed 9,124 people and was suspected to have killed another 3,506 people before July 19 already when the Health Ministry reported 6,736 deaths.
The statistics agency registered a 20% increase in mortality in the last week of June compared with the same week last year already.
Colombia is among the world’s 10 most affected countries with more than 387,000 confirmed cases, according to the John Hopkins University.
Worst-hit countries in the Americas
- United States | 5,199,395
- Brazil | 3,035,422
- Mexico | 530,212
- Peru | 478,024
- Colombia | 387,481
More than one third of the infections were confirmed in the capital Bogota, a city of 7 million, where more than 3,600 people died, according to the Health Ministry.
Hospital systems allegedly holding
A steady increase in capacity of intensive care units (ICU’s) has allowed the Bogota and major cities like Medellin and Cali to drop below the 90% occupancy rate the Colombian Medical Federation (FMC) believes is critical to timely treat emergencies.
Regional authorities maintain a red alert in these cities as their ICU capacity continues to be above 80%.
Caribbean cities like Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta appear to have passed the peak, said FMC vice-president Carolina Corcho on Sunday, weeks after an early peak all but collapsed their healthcare systems last month.
The historically neglected south of the country continues to struggle most with the pandemic due to a major deficiency in healthcare.