Colombia is going through the third peak of the pandemic and the department of Antioquia, in the northwest of the country, is on the edge of its health system due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days, which has forced the authorities to extreme measures.
Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are scarce in the department: of the 1,307 beds available, 1,234 are occupied (94%), the governor in charge of Antioquia, Luis Fernando Suárez, informed the press on Wednesday.
“We are with figures of more than 150 patients a day who are needing beds … it is necessary to save lives by transferring patients to other departments,” he added.
The situation is critical in Medellín, the capital of Antioquia and the second largest city in the country. The representative William Vivas, observer of the rights of citizens, warned that for the first time during the pandemic there is a collapse in the city’s health system.
“There are 122 people pending placement in ICU beds. They are waiting in emergencies, they have turned to hospitals that do not have space to treat them, “Vivas told The Associated Press.
Several hospitals in Medellín have declared a state of hospital emergency. The two Hospitals of San Vicente Foundation warned that they will not be able to receive more patients until there is greater availability of beds, after having expanded their capacity to the maximum.
“The outlook is tragic… ICU beds are being overflowed by the amount of people they are requiring. This means that people who are going to go to hospitals and who could have a possibility of an ICU, are not going to have it due to a simple material impossibility of treating them, ”Andrés Aguirre Martínez, director of the Pablo Tobón Hospital, warned the press on Wednesday. Uribe, who declared an emergency.
Medellín has tripled its installed capacity. At the beginning of the pandemic a year ago it had 300 ICU beds and currently has 941 beds. According to the Medellín Health Secretariat, the ICU occupancy level is 97.6%.
“Easter has created great pressure. Many arrived infected from their travels. To avoid the collapse of the health system, 30 ICUs, 34 ICUs and 160 hospitalizations will be opened today, ”said the mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, on Wednesday on Twitter.
The pressure on the health system will continue “at the limit” for at least two more weeks, according to the governor, so that starting Thursday there will be continuous curfews from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am on Monday April 12 in much of the department.
In other Colombian cities such as Santa Marta and Barranquilla, in the Caribbean, ICU occupancy levels have increased in recent days. While Bogotá, the capital of the country, declared an orange alert and quarantine from zero hours on Saturday, April 10 to 4 in the morning of April 13, to control the increase in infections and prevent the full capacity of its hospitals.
Colombia exceeded 2.4 million infections by COVID-19 and 64,000 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health. In addition, it has applied 2.5 million vaccines, out of the 61 million doses it acquired to provide its population free of charge.