Closure of international airports marks the containment measures in Colombia
In response to criticism of his government's late decisions, President Iván Duque announced the suspension of international flights in the country.
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As the reality of the other side of the Atlantic begins to take hold in South American territory, countries with an opening to the Caribbean are beginning to take measures to control the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic on national soil.
This Thursday, Colombian President Iván Duque announced that the authorities at national airports "will suspend the arrival of international flights for 30 days,” starting next Monday.
According to Colombia Reports, the measure will include control of passenger traffic at El Dorado airport, but foreigners will be allowed to leave.
“The president made the announcement after local media picked up that Uruguay’s foreign minister had said that Duque offered the airport to facilitate the transit of citizens from countries throughout South America who are stuck abroad,” the media added.
"We are going to have to take more drastic measures and I have no problem taking them because we have to think in terms of our country," Duque said in a national address. "We have left a wide window for Colombians to return and be with their loved ones. We have increased the controls so that this preventive isolation works, but I also want to say that I am going to take the decision, for a period of 30 days, to suspend the entry of travelers to Colombia starting this weekend, it is a measure that is painful but necessary.”
Since the announcement of the global COVID-19 pandemic, both the media and Colombian citizens have heavily criticized Duque because of his decision to revoke local authorities’ measures to prevent the epidemic in the country.
Between pots and pans and comments on social networks, cities like Bogotá have decided to take matters into their own hands, following the instructions of their governors.
Knowing the rapid spread and contagion of the virus –there are 102 reported cases in Colombia so far– the Duque government's slowness in taking action has forced citizens to exert pressure in other ways.
But the closure of airports could seriously affect the economy, considering the country's transportation sector accounts for 4.9% of the national GDP, according to Reuters.
“I cannot rule out any scenario. Our obligation is to have it simulated and have it clear the type of decisions we would need to take at the moment for health reasons,” Transport Minister Ángela María Orozco told Reuters in an interview.
Other means of transport such as ports like Buenaventura will not be restricted, Orozco explained, nor will air cargo transport, "although crews are not allowed to disembark," she added.