Note: all statistics correct at the date of publishing (March 16, 2020)
Last week, coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic. So far, more than 175,000 cases have been confirmed across the world, resulting in more than 6,000 deaths. On March 6, the first people in Colombia tested positive for the virus, leading to decisions to close the borders to all non-resident visitors, cancel events with more than 50 people, and shut cinemas, churches, and schools. On Twitter, President Ivan Duque said that the government will decide on April 20 whether to resume in-person education.
Colombia’s immigration entity – Migración Colombia – has also enacted a strict 14-day quarantine rule for residents and nationals returning to the country. Those who do not comply with this rule face immediate deportation.
As of Sunday, there are now 35 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Colombia, covering Cartagena, Cali, Cúcuta, Dosquebradas, Manizales, Medellín, Neiva, and Bogotá. In Medellín, seven people have been diagnosed with the virus, as well as one in Rionegro and one in Itagüí.
On March 16, Medellín declared a formal state of emergency (calamidad pública) to enable urgent measures to protect citizens from the coronavirus.
How to stop the spread of coronavirus
Preventative measures in Medellín are the same as general advice being given from health authorities. Simple ways to avoid further spread of the virus are:
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for 20 seconds minimum. This kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and make you sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Stay at home if you feel unwell
If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Colombian authorities have the most up-to-date information on the situation. Calling before you arrive will allow your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least one meter (three feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Coughs and sneezes spray small liquid droplets from the nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including COVID-19. In general, avoid physical contact – this means no hand-shaking or hugging. Be extra vigilant about maintaining social distancing on public transport like the metro.
Symptoms & treatment of coronavirus
These symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure:
– Dry coughing
– Fever or chills
– Shortness of breath
– Sore joints
There is currently no official cure for coronavirus, however, these treatments can facilitate a full recovery:
– Self isolate for at least seven days
– Drink lots of water
– Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help with symptoms such as pain or fever
– Follow the advice from healthcare professionals
– Antibiotics do not work (they are for bacterial infections, while coronavirus is a viral infection)
Closed locations in Medellín
The following locations in Medellín are shut and have suspended all activities until further notice:
– Biblioteca Pública Piloto y filiales
– Museo Casa de la Memoria de Medellín
– Teatro Lido
– Instituto de Deporte y Recreación de Medellín (INDER)
– Museo de Arte Moderno
– Museo de Antioquia
– Cine Colombia cinemas
Bars and clubs have also been instructed to close. The metrocable line to Parque Arví will not operate from March 17 until the 30th.
The Ministry of Health in Colombia (Ministerio de Salud) has put together this document with in-depth information about how to stay protected and informed during the pandemic. Important phone numbers can be found at the bottom of the document.
Mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero Calle, is posting regular updates via his Twitter account (in Spanish).
Colombia Reports also has a live tracker of cases of coronavirus in Colombia.