BOGOTA (Reuters) – Bogota, the Colombian capital, will hold a strict two-week quarantine in seven neighborhoods beginning Sunday, as it tries once again to curb coronavirus infections amid still-high intensive care unit occupation rates, the mayor said on Thursday.
The Andean country has reported nearly 434,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 14,000 deaths. More than a third of total cases have occurred in the capital.
The measure mirrors previous neighborhood-based quarantines held this month and last. The earlier lockdowns were successful at limiting peoples’ movements, Mayor Claudia Lopez said in a video press conference.
Occupation in the city’s ICUs has fallen gently from more than 90% to around 87%, she said. Bogota has continued to add ventilators to its hospital system throughout the pandemic.
“The (health) system never collapsed, even though it had high occupation, thanks to the care we took, thanks to face masks, thanks to distancing, thanks to hand-washing and thanks to the focused quarantines,” Lopez said. “The efforts of the last six weeks were not in vain.”
Infections will begin to fall from the end of August, she added.
The neighborhoods of Usaquen, Chapinero, Santa Fe, Candelaria, Puente Aranda and Antonio Narino, which are highly vulnerable to more infections and rapid spread, will be under the renewed lockdown from Sunday to Aug. 30, Lopez said.
Colombia has been under a nationwide lockdown since late March, but many industries have returned to work with new safety protocols, especially in municipalities with no or low COVID rates.
During strict quarantines only one person per household may go shopping for essentials each day, based on their ID number, and there is a restriction on movement from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Beginning in September, authorized restaurants will be able to serve food outside on shuttered streets, and three domestic flight routes to Leticia, Cartagena and San Andres will begin to operate, Lopez added.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Leslie Adler)