A steep rise in COVID-19-related hospitalizations burst the propaganda bubble weeks after international media heralded Medellin as a “surprise COVID-19 pioneer” and a “medical marvel.”
To prevent a collapse of the healthcare system in the capital of Antioquia, Quintero announced to expand neighborhood quarantines, city-wide curfews and a liquor ban on the weekends.
Confirmed coronavirus infections in Antioquia
Source: National Health Institute
Medical community calls for second lockdown
The mayor’s decision comes a day after the the regional branch of the Colombian Medical Union Association called on Quintero and acting Governor Luis Fernando Suarez to decree a second lockdown, “allowing only the mobility of people carrying out essential activities.”
If we continue with the current Ro (basic reproduction number) of 1.3 we calculated, it is easy to foresee a saturation of the hospital and intensive care services in a few weeks.
Colombian Association of Medical Unions
A return to a full lockdown would effectively end the city’s attempts to reactivate the economy and Quintero’s claim his response to the coronavirus pandemic was “an example to the world.”
Medellin’s short-lived “medical marvel” status
Quintero admitted that “it’s likely we will have to confront what other cities in the countries painfully have gone through” in regards to COVID-19 deaths and a saturation of Medellin’s hospital system where the ICU occupancy rate stood at 66% on Wednesday.
“The next weeks are going to be difficult,” the mayor admitted.
The governor of Antioquia has taken control of the provinces’ public and private healthcare systems after the regional ICU occupancy rate forced him to declare a yellow alert.
According to the local medial association, Medellin continues to have difficulty to adequately test for coronavirus infections like almost all cities in Latin America.
The pandemic is expected to reach its peak in Medellin and the rest of Colombia in August when the city’s healthcare system will find out whether it is strong enough to resist the force of the pandemic or not.