BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s daily confirmed cases of coronavirus reached their highest level since mid-August on Thursday, as the government warned people against large holiday gatherings.
The Andean country, which has had a total of 1,468,795 confirmed cases and 39,787 deaths, recorded 12,196 new cases on Thursday, according to health ministry data.
The figure was the highest since Aug. 19, when there were 13,055 new cases. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)
President Ivan Duque and health officials have repeatedly warned Colombians against gathering in crowds at shopping areas and urged them to keep family celebrations limited in order to reduce spread of the virus.
Duque on Wednesday said rising cases numbers could be traced to celebrations to mark the feast of the Immaculate Conception – known locally as Night of the Candles – when families gather to put candles in their windows or outside their homes.
The daily death toll also rose past 200 on Wednesday and Thursday, reaching 204 and 227 respectively. Daily new recorded deaths have not surpassed 200 since September.
Colombia expects to vaccinate about 15 million people against COVID-19 in 2021, including health care workers, those over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions.
Intensive care units in Bogota, a epicenter for infection, were at 74% capacity on Thursday, according to local health department figures.
Brazil and Colombia are reporting the highest number of new cases in South America, the World Health Organization said this week.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)