Katherine Trujillo Useche
Latin Agency for News of Medicine and Public Health
With the threat of the second wave of infections due to COVID-19, many countries in the world have decided to return to strict quarantine in order to stop the uncontrollable amount of infections, countries such as France and Spain decreed total confinement in the last week and in Colombia it seems not It will be the exception, since the number of infections in this country has risen notably, after having opened most of the economic sectors, now, with the advance of the pandemic, they seek to limit the movement of people and thereby reduce the speed of transmission of the new coronavirus.
At the time, strict confinement was effective, as proven by various scientific studies and the statistics themselves, today it is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the last resort in a series of decisions that a country must take to fight against COVID-19.
WHO Director General Tendros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week, “If governments can apply their contact tracing system and focus on isolating all cases and quarantining contacts” it will then be possible to avoid widespread lockdown .
Generalized quarantines have once again been taken into consideration in Europe, where half of the world’s cases occur and there are beginning to be no UCIS. Ireland was the first European country to enact a second general lockdown. Wales joined that measure since last Friday and for several weeks.
However, for now the decisions made by the governments in that continent have focused on curfews, specific trade closures or places where there is a high risk of contagion and local confinements.
Colombia and Latin America are experiencing an epidemiological moment different from that of Europe. While in that continent they are in a second wave of infections, in Latin America the figures show a slow steady decline and in the particular case of Colombia there is a sort of plateau in cases and mortality.
In this way, the Ministry of Health and the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá, warned that a rebound in cases is possible towards the end of November and the first days of December, therefore, they have insisted on individual responsibility as the first measure to control infections. .
Alejandro Gómez, district secretary of health, adds that Bogotá can pass the second peak of the pandemic without strict confinement thanks to “the experience learned, the expansion of our ICUs from 940 to 2,200 in the city, in addition to the capacity for diagnosed aid and the DAR strategy (Detected, Isolated and Reported) ”.
The former Minister of Health, Gabriel Riveros, is clear in saying that a new total confinement would be the demonstration of a failure to understand the epidemiological situation at the national level. “I think that confinements of smaller areas will surely be required that are defined according to the epidemiological information available. This to the extent that the country has several pandemics, since the evolution is different by regions, departments, as well as municipalities “he concludes.
Luis Jorge Hernández, doctor in Public Health, agrees that the total quarantines no longer work because they have lost their effect and cause a lot of psychosocial and health damage due to events not prevented or treated. Three combined strategies have the same effectiveness: population adherence to mask and hand washing; laboratory tests, contact tracing and isolation and gradual openings with gauges.
For his part, Carlos Eduardo Pérez, infectologist, recalls that general quarantines do not serve to eliminate the virus but to slow down its transmission and in that sense confinement would only be a decision based on health indicators such as ICU occupation and not on numbers. The number of cases will depend on the response of the health system and not on the affected populations.
Carlos Álvares, national coordinator of COVID-19 studies for the WHO, states that the case of Colombia is different from that of Europe because in Colombia the confinement did not lead to a suppression but to a reduction of the effective reproductive number. There is always the possibility of total confinement depending on the behavior of the population, especially in large cities.