Duque declares health emergency over COVID-19

By Emma Newbery March 16, 2020

President says that stopping the spread of COVID-19 is in our hands.

President Duque stressed that panic is as dangerous as the virus. César Carrión – Presidencia

The number of COVID-19 cases in Colombia reached 54 today, with nine new cases confirmed in Bogotá this morning.

The first case was confirmed 10 days ago and the numbers have risen steadily since then, with many of the virus’s victims having travelled in recent weeks. Worldwide, the total number of cases has risen to almost 170,000 and over 6,500 deaths.

Read all our coverage on the coronavirus in Colombia

Last night, President Duque’s address to the nation contained four main messages: 

  • Don’t panic: Fear is the virus’s greatest ally, so don’t go to health centres if you are not sick and don’t hoard medicines you don’t need. Medical services may be under severe pressure soon and may not be able to see non-urgent cases.
  • Wash your hands. Simple measures can reduce contagion by 50%. Stay at home if you are exhibiting symptoms and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.  Avoid physical contact and try not to touch your face. If you are outside of the house, use disinfectant gel.
  • Closure of schools and universities: From this morning, Colombia’s public schools and universities will be closed until at least April 20. Private educational facilities are mostly doing the same. This week, teachers will be preparing virtual study programs.
  • Closure of Colombia’s borders: Existing restrictions on arrivals from European countries have been extended. As of today, no non-residents or non-nationals will be allowed to arrive in Colombia. The border with Venezuela remains closed. 

The Bogotá Post will be attending a press conference with the head of Migración Colombia this morning and will keep you posted on any developments that might impact foreigners living in the country.