Colombia goes under lockdown amid third Covid-19 wave

Bogotá, Apr 10 (EFE).- The major cities of Colombia Saturday began the first weekend of strict lockdowns in a bid to reduce the spread of the third wave of the coronavirus following several days of more than 10,000 daily infections.

Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla woke up with lower-than-usual traffic and public transportation.

Authorities imposed a night curfew in Cali and Cartagena, which also closed the beaches in the afternoon.

Colombia, one of the worst affected Latin American countries, has an overall caseload of 2.5 million Covid-19 cases, including 65,283 deaths.

Infections and deaths began to increase a few days before Easter after the second peak in January.

The current trend is worrying because cases are spiking aggressively after last month’s streak of less than 5,000 daily cases.

Tranquility reigned in Bogotá Saturday with people out on the main roads and parks exercising or walking, one of the exceptions allowed, and the presence of police checkpoints, mainly at the city’s exits.

Police sent several groups of tourists in the central Plaza Bolívar, unaware of the lockdown, back to their hotels.

Despite the situation in Bogotá’s hospitals under control, with 73.7 percent of ICU beds occupied, the mayor’s office decided to lock down the city for three days from Saturday midnight to reduce infections.

The situation is more alarming in other cities like Medellín, one of the epicenters of the third wave.

The capital of the department of Antioquia began its lockdown Thursday night after experiencing a collapse of hospitals with an ICU occupancy of over 98 percent.

The third wave has hit the Caribbean region of Colombia hard, especially the cities of Barranquilla and Santa Marta.

Restrictions in Santa Marta began before Easter to reduce the impact of beach tourism on this area, and the mayor’s office imposed lockdowns on alternate days.

Barranquilla has been under lockdown since 6 pm Friday and traffic was notably reduced in the most commercial parts of the city.

The new wave of infections is more aggressive than the previous ones.

But the health authorities have not yet announced the presence of new strains or variants in the country.

Meanwhile, the country continues to focus on vaccination efforts, with the three Covid vaccines that have arrived in the country since mid-February: Pfizer, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca.

A total of 2,946,222 people have already been vaccinated, especially healthcare workers and those over 80 years of age, prioritized in the first phases, and 744,266 of them have received both doses, according to health ministry data from Apr. 9.

However, the shortage of China’s Sinovac vaccines is presenting problems for those who have yet to receive the second dose, especially adults over 70 years of age.

The government has already announced that 500,000 vaccines are expected to arrive on Sunday. EFE

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