BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s first suspected death from COVID-19 occurred in February, almost a month before the Andean country originally reported its first case of the coronavirus, the government’s statistics agency said Thursday.
The country reported its first case on March 6 and what was thought to be its first death – that of a 58-year-old taxi driver in the Caribbean city of Cartagena – on March 21.
However figures published by the statistics agency show the first suspected death from COVID-19 occurred on Feb. 15.
In the first quarter of the year, some 94 suspected deaths were also reported, the DANE agency said.
Antioquia province, home to second city Medellin, accounted for 59% of suspected COVID-19 deaths, DANE added.
Earlier on Thursday the DANE statistics agency said the first confirmed death took place on Feb. 26. However, health authorities in Colombian city Barranquilla said that information was misstated and that death actually occurred on May 26.
In the first quarter of the year Colombia’s National Health Institute registered 29 deaths.
Some 40% of COVID-19 deaths in the quarter occurred in capital city Bogota, while provinces Valle del Cauca and Bolivar accounted for 23% and 10% respectively.
Colombia has now reported more than 80,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 2,654 deaths.
Colombia’s economy has been battered by a slump in oil prices and measures implemented by President Ivan Duque to control the spread of the virus. The government expects the economy to contract by 5.5% this year.
Duque declared an ongoing quarantine in late March. While certain restrictions have started lifting, the period of obligatory isolation was extended this week until July 15.
(This story corrects to reflect health ministry clarification in paragraph six that it had misstated the date of the first confirmed coronavirus death)
(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Andrea Ricci)