Positive balance of the quarantine drill in Colombia
One third of Colombia has been in quarantine. The exercise allowed authorities to prepare contingency plans and reduced the exposure of millions of people.
In an unprecedented exercise in Colombia, on Friday, March 20, a third of the country's population entered into quarantine drill, while several other cities imposed curfews.
The measure of the quarantine drill was proposed by Bogotá Mayoress Claudia López, who was joined by the governors of the departments of Cundinamarca, Meta, Boyacá and Santander.
Although initially the power struggle between López and Colombian President Iván Duque was evident, as citizens demonstrated in favor of the drill - in fact, a petition on Change.org obtained more than 257,000 signatures in favor of total quarantine - and local leaders grouped around López, Duque had no choice but to follow it.
The other factor that influenced was that the former president of Colombia and Iván Duque's mentor, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, spoke out in favor of the beginning of the quarantine since, to the extent that more lives are saved, an earlier recovery of the economy will be possible.
Anticipar cuarentena, más vidas protegidas, mejor recuperación de la economía https://t.co/c7VZe3Y6x4
— Álvaro Uribe Vélez (@AlvaroUribeVel) March 20, 2020
Uribe Vélez is being investigated for various crimes against humanity, but he has certainly understood more clearly the correlation between containing the pandemic and the recovery of the economy, unlike López Obrador, Bolsonaro and Piñera, the presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Chile, respectively.
The success of the quarantine drill was such that at the end of the first day, Iván Duque decreed the start of quarantine throughout the country from 23:59 hours on 24 March until 13 April.
According to reports from the Mayor's Office of Bogotá, less than 1% of the city's population left during the first day of the exercise and, in general terms, the regulation of the population has remained very high, although more sanctions have been imposed as the days go by.
At the end of the second day of the mock quarantine, the president of Colombia and the mayor of Bogotá announced that the educational exercise in Bogotá and all the zones that had joined would be extended by one more day, from which time there would be continuity with the official start of the quarantine in Colombia.
Among the other achievements of the mayoress have been the creation of shelters for the homeless, home delivery services of a basic basket to the most vulnerable population (either because of their age or, for example, because they live from informal sales), the delivery of 646.000 snacks to children whose food depends on the city's public schools, guaranteeing a constant supply to all the city's shops and supermarkets (in fact, over the weekend more tons of food entered Bogotá than they normally do), setting up home delivery services from marketplaces to inhabitants, the relief of payments for public services - in principle, for people with less economic resources, although the possibility of extending this to the middle class is being studied - and, very especially, the fitting out of the city's largest convention centre to contain 5. 000 additional beds for Intensive Care Units.
These 5,000 beds will be in Corferias, the place where every year the Bogota Book Fair is held, the second largest on the continent after the Guadalajara Book Fair. In a country with 277 confirmed cases (the majority in Bogotá, which is the largest city), the fact that these additional 5,000 beds are being made available shows that the authorities expect the epidemic to continue to worsen, which is undoubtedly worrying, but also that, unlike many others, they have listened to the epidemiologists, which will save many lives.
As in any pedagogical exercise, there have been mistakes. The biggest of these was the departure of thousands of people on the road just before the start of the drill. These people, who assumed they could take Friday to Monday to rest, potentially took COVID-19 to other areas of the country. While the mayoress acknowledges that many of them may not return to the city because Bogotá also has a large floating population, who work there but live in nearby towns, she has been very emphatic that those who left to travel committed gross irresponsibility. In turn, the fact has been widely condemned on social media.
When Claudia Lopez won the mayoral elections, social networks exploded with comments from the Christian right, saying that the capital was now Sodom, under the yoke of a lesbian. Well, that lesbian is leading the way to save Sodom from the fire.