A police officer wearing a face mask asks for identification documents to a driver in one of the neighborhoods where the mayor's office decreed strict quarantine, amidst an outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Bogota, Colombia, July 14, 2020.

Bogotá tries ‘staggered quarantine’ to slow coronavirus spread

Officials in Bogotá, Colombia are ordering residents in some boroughs to stay in their homes for two-week intervals in hopes that staggering a shutdown across swaths of the city will allow most economic activity to continue while slowing the rate of coronavirus infections. 

Player utilities

Listen to the story.

A police officer wearing a face mask asks for identification documents to a driver in one of the neighborhoods where the mayor's office decreed strict quarantine, amidst an outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Bogota, Colombia, July 14, 2020.

Credit:

Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters

Officials in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital and largest city, are ordering residents in some boroughs to stay in their homes for two-week intervals in hopes that staggering a shutdown across swaths of the city will allow most economic activity to continue while slowing the rate of coronavirus infections. 

In a live video presentation on Sunday, Bogotá Mayor Claudia Lopez explained her administration is implementing a “staggered quarantine” ahead of an expected peak in infections in August. 

Most hospitals are reporting their intensive care units are already almost at capacity. City health officials had reported more than 55,000 infections by Thursday.

Targeted sections of the city will take turns shutting down over a six-week period, roughly 2.5 million people will be staying at home every two weeks, Lopez explained. Officials are aiming to at once reduce the rate of new infections and the rate of lost jobs and economic activity. Bogotá, a city of about 7 million people, represents about a third of Colombia’s confirmed coronavirus infections. 

“In August, we’re going to have the highest number so far of infected people,” Lopez said. “Thousands of families will be worried for their loved ones, and many will be mourning the death of a relative. So how do we prepare for that difficult moment that awaits us? By taking measures.”

Related: Options dwindle for Venezuelan migrants across Latin America during the pandemic

While Lopez has generally enjoyed high popularity ratings during the pandemic, there is not unanimous support for her efforts. 

Under the staggered quarantine plan, some people could be out of work for as long as four weeks if they live and work in areas that are shut down at different times. Andres Vecino, a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University, instead suggests shutting down the entire city for two weeks would slow down infections while having a lesser impact on the economy. 

“That way everyone would be locked down for only two weeks,” Vecino said. “It’s a deeper impact in the economy, but it’s only two weeks.” 

Officials in Bogotá have made great strides in pandemic response, Vecino said. They’ve allocated payments the equivalent of about $70 so the poorest families in the city can feed themselves while they’re at home. And they’ve increased their testing capacity exponentially. 

But that’s not enough, he said.

“What the city needs to do after having all these increases in testing is to scale up the tracing and isolation strategy,” he said.

Andres Vecino, research scientist at Johns Hopkins University

“What the city needs to do after having all these increases in testing is to scale up the tracing and isolation strategy,” he said. 

In Bogotá’s southeastern borough of San Cristobal, local mayor Anderson Acosta said on Tuesday that authorities had issued relatively few citations for violating the shut-down this week. San Cristobal, with a population of 400,000 and many living in poverty, has one of the city’s highest rates of infections. 

Acosta is working at police checkpoints and ensuring that people who are the most in need are receiving boxes with groceries or boxes with groceries. The Red Cross has delivered more than 18,000 grocery boxes since March in San Cristobal, he said. He’s also been involved in education efforts, and his borough is now offering 2,000 free tests per week.

“The only way through the pandemic,” Acosta said, “is to work together.”

Related Stories

close

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. To learn more, review our Cookie Policy. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies and Privacy Policy.

Ok, I understand. Close
close

The story you just read is freely available and accessible to everyone because readers like you support The World financially. 

Thank you all for helping us reach our goal of 1,000 donors. We couldn’t have done it without your support. Your donation directly supported the critical reporting you rely on, the consistent reporting you believe in, and the deep reporting you want to ensure survives. 

DONATE TODAY > No thanks