Colombia’s indigenous organization ONIC said Friday that two babies and a woman died of suspected coronavirus infections as the native Colombians kicked off their own monitoring system.
The deaths followed an apparent outbreak of the disease in an indigenous reserve in the northwest of the country where 90 of the more than 300 community members of the Peñas Blancas reserve have fallen ill, according to the ONIC.
The ONIC has been monitoring suspected outbreaks near and in native Colombian communities separate to the National Health Institute (INS), whose testing capacity is limited to relatively urban areas.
The Peñas Blancas community, for example, lives 60 kilometers away from the nearest medical center in the coastal village of Jurado, which is not equipped to deal with epidemics.
According to the ONIC, the community has no access to healthcare as paramilitary group AGC has banned all travel in the jungle region.
The indigenous organization previously issued a manual for indigenous organizations, of whom few have access to Colombia’s healthcare system.
On March 15, the health promoter went to Riosucio to request a health brigade in response to the appearance of people with symptoms of ARI (Acute Respiratory Infections). The health brigade did not arrive and yesterday informed the [territorial monitoring system] SMT that on March 29 a 3-month-old baby died of a dry cough and fever, a 4-month-old baby with ear pain and a 60-year-old adult woman with body pain and a dry cough.
Following the outbreak, the ONIC in the Peñas Blancas reserve and amid growing rebellion against the government of President Ivan Duque, the native Colombians have gone into full self-governance mode.
The indigenous’ health promoter expressed concern about the outbreak considering the fact that the community has been in isolation since the national government issued a national quarantine on March 25.
The ONIC said it was trying to get the local community tested in order to either confirm or deny the outbreak corresponds to the coronavirus or a different cause.