Skip to main content

Letter from… Bogotá

22 July 2020

By Juan Ulloa, Account Manager, SEC Newgate Colombia 

Colombia is going through its toughest moment since the day the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country. The lockdown in March and April, as an early response to contain the spread of the virus, generated the highest levels of unemployment ever. This has led the National Government to gradually reopen most economic activities despite not having reached the epidemiological peak.

In parallel, the virus has begun to severely affect public health in six of the 33 regions which the country is divided into. This week, Colombia has reached fourth place of American continent countries with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in one day, just below United States, Brazil, and Mexico, countries with triple the Colombian population.

Good news is the early lockdown made it possible for authorities to increase the capacity of the health system to attend to patients in serious or critical condition. The number of ICUs grew by more than 40% thanks to the purchase of ventilators in the international market and the express training of thousands of nurses and doctors. 

Likewise, Colombia amplified the PCR testing capacity to 30,000 units per day with the support of 98 diagnostic laboratories, which places the country as the second in the region, after Chile, with the highest number of tests applied.

Another positive fact is that economic sectors that have suffered the most because of the pandemic are developing biosafety protocols, which makes them ready to operate responsibly when the government approves it. This is the case with the aeronautical industry, which, even this week, will begin tests of passenger moving between medium-sized cities.

The reaction of the National Government in attending to the pandemic has been very focused. The economic opening in the territories in which there are no cases (or there are very few) is almost total, except for clubs, bars, concerts, or the like. On the other hand, in Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla strict measures have been applied, the economic opening is partial, and the testing and tracing strategy is intense.

Authorities project that Colombia will reach the epidemiological peak by the end of August. For that reason, an economic recovery is expected in an L shape, as long as there are no spikes at the end of the year.