As of October 24, local time, Colombia, with a total population of about 50 million, had accumulated more than 1 million confirmed cases of Coronavirus, reaching 1,007,711. This number has also made the country one of the most severely affected countries in Latin America and even the world.
Currently in Latin America, the only countries with more than one million confirmed cases are Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. And like many Latin American countries, Colombia’s cumulative number of confirmed cases has maintained a strong upward trend, and the proportion of new confirmed cases daily is still maintained at about 20%.
The development of the epidemic shows regional differences
Perez is an infectious disease doctor in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. He has been working on the front line for a long time since the outbreak of the epidemic in early March this year, and the hospital where he works receives patients with Coronavirus every day.
He told the headquarter reporter that although the number of new confirmed cases per day has declined compared with before, the total number is still growing.
Perez believes that only when the proportion of new confirmed cases per day drops below 5% can the spread of the epidemic be basically controlled, and this goal will be difficult to achieve in the short term.
Perestam said that the current cumulative number of virus tests in Colombia is only 4.71 million, which is less than 10% of the total population of the country. When the country has resumed work and production on a large scale, many patients with mild illness may not know it.
Continues to go out and become a potential source of virus transmission, which has also increased the difficulty of epidemic prevention.
He pointed out that no one should relax their awareness of protection before the people can get vaccinated on a large scale. At least they must implement self-prevention measures such as wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and maintaining safe social distance.
A communiqué from the Ministry of Health of Colombia shows that from the analysis of the current epidemic curve, at least 20% of the country’s population may have been infected with Coronavirus.
Coronavirus in Colombia
It is estimated that by the end of this year, the number of deaths from Coronavirus in Colombia will exceed 40,000. Colombian President Duque once said that the people must be prepared to spend the New Year holiday in the epidemic.
The Ministry of Health recommends that after October, with the increase in various festivals and holidays, various localities should formulate differentiated temporary epidemic prevention policies such as “curfews” and “no alcohol” according to the actual situation of the epidemic to avoid the deterioration of the epidemic caused by large-scale travel.
At the same time, the Ministry of Health also reminded the public to adapt to the “new normal” of the epidemic, try to avoid large-scale gatherings, and consider wearing masks when family gatherings are not necessary, and special protection for the elderly.
Looking at the overall situation, Colombia’s severely affected areas are mainly located in metropolises such as the capital Bogota and Medellin, the second largest city.
At this stage, the epidemic in Bogota has eased compared to before, but recently the occupancy rate of ICU beds in some provinces once again exceeded 80% for several days, and the government had to announce a red warning again.
Block or open? Restarting the economy is full of obstacles
In the face of the sudden Coronavirus, the Colombian government once adopted strict quarantine measures. Except for industries involving people’s livelihood, large-scale suspension of work and production across the country.
Although epidemiologists and medical staff advocate that the mandatory quarantine period should be extended as much as possible before the epidemic is contained to avoid infection.
small and medium-sized enterprises and low-income groups who mainly rely on odd jobs continue to demand the government to end the quarantine and restart the economy.
According to official data, Colombia’s GDP was approximately US$101.9 billion in the first half of this year, a decrease of 7.4% year-on-year. Thousands of companies may face operational difficulties.
Affected by the downward pressure on the economy, the Colombian government has continued to relax the isolation measures since June and gradually restarted the economy. Currently, shopping mall retail, catering, aviation, tourism, etc. have all resumed work and production.
“It is the economy that restarts, not social activities.” This is a point that Colombian governments at all levels have constantly emphasized in recent months.
In Bogota, the capital, in order to restrict gatherings of young people, restaurants, bars and other places are strictly limited in business hours. At the same time, they are required to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages after 10 pm.
Leisure places such as movie theaters have not yet officially opened.
Tourism is one of the pillar industries in Colombia. Santa Marta, San Andres and other tourist resorts on the Caribbean coast of the country are favored by domestic and European and American tourists.
Affected by travel restrictions during the epidemic, seaside resorts lost their former hustle and bustle. Due to the relatively good situation of epidemic prevention and control, Santa Marta, San Andrés, etc. have been allowed to open beaches, hotels and other service industries since September.
In Santa Marta alone, it has received about 120,000 tourists in the past month. . However, just as tourism practitioners were gearing up to regroup, the epidemic in San Andrés suddenly recurred, with a surge in new cases every day.
Since the tourism industry resumed in September, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the local area within 30 days has changed from the previous one.
172 cases rose to 1,336 cases, and this city with a population of about 100,000 has only 13 intensive care beds, of which 9 are used to receive and care for patients with Coronavirus, and the remaining 4 are reserved for patients with other diseases.
Because the medical system is overwhelmed, the Colombian government requires the local government to issue an emergency response policy. At present, the chief executive of San Andres has been suspended due to suspected abuse of power during the epidemic.
He said during the investigation: “It was really difficult to decide at the time whether to continue the lockdown to control the epidemic or to look at the local economy. Heading for collapse.”
Analysts pointed out that Colombia’s economic restart will be a difficult and slow process. Colombia has long relied on the export of oil and agricultural products.
but under the background of the continuous spread of the global epidemic, the situation of both domestic production capacity and international demand will not be reversed in the short term; on the other hand.
Colombia’s domestic epidemic continues to raging, and the domestic demand market is facing both consumption weakness and consumers. The dilemma of lack of confidence.
Unemployment rate, dropout rate rises, poverty problem exacerbates social unrest
Alejandro Werner, head of the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund, said recently that the economy of Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to decline by 8.1% this year, and the rebound in 2021 will be only 3.6%. Most countries will have difficulty before 2023. Return to 2019 levels.
In addition, Werner pointed out: “After the epidemic is over, the level of economic activity and employment in the region will be much lower than before, and the level of poverty and unequal income distribution will become more serious.”
Statistics show that the unemployment rate in Colombia has been hovering around 20% for a long time this year, and it is expected to fall to about 16% at the end of the year or early next year.
Affected by multiple factors such as the reduction of family disposable income and the uneven quality of online courses, the registration rate of Columbia colleges and universities this fall has fallen sharply compared with before, and 24% of college students said they will suspend their studies.
Although the current epidemic is still spreading in Colombia, the large-scale street demonstrations and rallies caused by various social conflicts have never stopped for several months. The Bogota City Government stated that the initial rebound of the epidemic in the city at the end of September was directly related to the continuous days of riots in the city due to police violence.
In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean recently issued a report that the Coronavirus may increase the extremely poor population in Latin America to 83.4 million.
More and more people who are struggling at the poverty line have difficulty getting enough food and are facing the threat of hunger.
The report believes that the current epidemic has not had a fatal impact on agricultural production in Latin America, but as the epidemic continues to develop, it may have an impact on planting and harvesting.
The United Nations reminds Latin American governments to attach importance to food production safety, to make the regional food production system more resilient in the face of climate change and public health emergencies, and to avoid new social unrest caused by poverty and food security.