COVID-19: Colombia goes to quarantine, Venezuela the extreme


BOGOTÁ (AP) – Colombia was preparing for a mandatory quarantine. Venezuela ordered more drastic isolation in central states. Mexico asked all companies to suspend the work that the movement of people requires. Ecuador extended the curfew for several hours.

Several regional governments increased mobility restrictions due to the increase in cases and new deaths and tried to carry out more tests while enabling medical facilities or hospitals to attend to the health emergency.

The number of infected in Colombia reached 378 on Tuesday and three died. Bogotá registers 120 infections, the department of Valle 66 and Antioquia 52. The country joined others in the region by implementing a quarantine that will last until April 13, warning that it will sanction those who neglect it.

During the days of isolation, health services, such as scheduled surgeries and delivery of medications, will continue and the 12,000 hospitals nationwide will be available, according to authorities. In addition, the capacity of beds in the military and police hospitals will be expanded to attend the emergency, it was reported.

In Venezuela, given the increase in cases in Caracas and the central states of Miranda and La Guaira, President Nicolás Maduro ordered a more extreme quarantine in those regions, which will mean that only one member per family will be able to take to the streets to make purchases essential.

There are 84 infections in this country.

Before quarantine, the National Assembly, with an opposition majority, held a virtual session for the first time. The opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, denounced that “the State does not have the capacity” to deal with the worsening of the Venezuelan crisis and stated that “we need humanitarian assistance.”

In the afternoon, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused the United States on Twitter of denying the flights of the state airline Conviasa, sanctioned in February by the Treasury Department, and of other airlines to bring back 800 Venezuelans stranded on US territory.

Maduro had previously demanded that Washington lift economic sanctions in the face of the pandemic.

Hours later, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo declared a total and indefinite quarantine that will begin on Wednesday at 5:01 am and will add to the curfew that is in effect from 5 pm. During isolation, those over 60 will be able to go shopping for food and medicine between 11 am and 1 pm. The rest of the people will also have two hours a day to leave, and their hours will be determined by the last number of their personal identity card, for example, a citizen whose document ends at 4, will be able to leave at 4pm.

In the Central American country there are 435 infected and eight deaths. 84.2% of the infected are in home isolation and the rest are hospitalized.

In Mexico, the undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, said in a press conference that the work that requires people to mobilize must stop. The measure is one of several that the government has already implemented. There was no discussion on how it would be applied or if there would be sanctions.

Many companies have already implemented plans to have employees work from home, but most companies remain open, including restaurants and gyms.

Some Mexicans have criticized the government for not implementing stricter controls while watching the virus plague most developed countries.

López-Gatell said the country was entering a second phase aimed at keeping the number of new infections at a level that the health system can handle. Mexico has 367 cases.

Ecuador extended a curfew that will take effect at 4pm instead of 7pm, after reporting a further increase in the number of infections. Because of the situation, 70% of the country’s productive apparatus has paralyzed activities, so extensions and extensions in the payment of contributions to social security and others are being analyzed, the government reported.

Risk Management Secretary Alexandra Ocles said there are 1,082 cases and 27 deaths. He added that some 1,311 people are under epidemiological siege. The province of Guayas continues to be the epicenter of the highest number of infected, with 826 cases.

In Chile, the first case was presented in Easter Island or Rapa Nui – a Chilean possession in the South Pacific – while the government isolated a neighborhood that presented a major outbreak due to the practice of religious rites. Chile registered a total of 920 and two deceased.

In Peru, the dead rose to seven and the infected to 416. President Martín Vizcarra indicated that 23 infected are hospitalized and nine of them in intensive care.

For their part, the Cuban authorities reported there are 46 cases. One of these people died and another was evacuated. One man was released, although he must remain in isolation for two weeks.

On Tuesday, the suspension of classes and the ban on the arrival of tourists came into force. Those who remain on the island should be confined to their hotels or lodging house.

In Argentina, with 301 cases, the authorities confirmed two new deaths, bringing the list of victims to six.

The Security Ministry confirmed that 1,229 people were detained in public space since Friday, when the mandatory quarantine was imposed, until Tuesday, for failing to comply with the measure. In turn, 20,403 people were delayed by the Security Forces and then by order of justice sent to their homes to be quarantined.

In Latin America, more than 6,000 infected and more than 90 deaths are reported at the moment. Brazil is at the forefront of infections and victims, with more than 1,960 and 30 deaths reported, followed by Ecuador and Chile.

Worldwide, more than 417,000 people have been infected and more than 18,600 have died from the coronavirus, but half of those who were once infected have recovered. Most patients have mild symptoms such as fever or cough, but older people or those with other health problems can experience serious complications.

With contributions from The Associated Press correspondents in Latin America.