Bogota mayor extends virus lockdown after govt refuses

Bogota (AFP) –


The mayor of Bogota said she would expand a coronavirus lockdown from Thursday to cover five million residents of the Colombian capital after the government refused to authorize a total shutdown.

Since July 13, with the health crisis worsening, the city of eight million has been under a series of rotating lockdowns by groups of neighborhoods, covering 2.5 million of the population at a time.

Bogota mayor Claudia Lopez on Tuesday said she would extend the measure so the lockdowns overlap to cover more of the population from July 23 to August 14.

"The government has been emphatic that it will not authorize a quarantine in Bogota, which is why the other possibility we have is to continue quarantining by locality, but we are going to accelerate the schedule," she said in a virtual press conference.

In the center, south and southwest of the city, "almost five million inhabitants will be quarantined for four days in a row" from Thursday to Sunday, she explained.

Other locations will then be closed in order to have "a shorter, but more intense quarantine" than originally anticipated.

The measures will now apply until August 14, rather than the end of that month as originally planned.

Bogota, which has almost a third of the 211,038 infections recorded in the country since March 6, is trying to avoid the collapse of its intensive care facilities which have reached 91.5 percent occupancy, according to official figures.

To date, 7,166 people have died in Colombia due to COVID-19.

On March 25, the government of President Ivan Duque imposed mandatory lockdown measures that, in principle, would apply until August 1.

However, as the economic crisis has worsened, with some five million jobs destroyed, the government has been relaxing restrictions even as the country enters the most critical period of contagion.

With 50 million people, Colombia is the fifth worst affected country in Latin America in the number of deaths and infections.