Colombian Health Minister calls for confidence in vaccines as ICU occupancy increases

BOGOTÁ, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Colombians should rely on vaccines against the coronavirus, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said on Thursday, at a time when occupancy levels in the Intensive Care Units of clinics and hospitals in the three largest cities in the country exceed 90%.

Colombia hopes to vaccinate 34 million of its citizens against COVID-19, while trying to ensure herd immunity.

The South American country has so far reached agreements with pharmaceutical companies to ensure vaccines for 29 million inhabitants.

Colombia will receive its first delivery of 1.7 million doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech in February, and will immediately begin its vaccination program, according to the government.

“We as a country have to be aware that vaccination is necessary, so Colombians must have confidence in vaccines,” Ruiz said.

Although the vaccine will not be mandatory in the country, Ruiz warned that the public’s confidence in the immunization process should not be affected.

“Let us remember that speculation does a lot of damage, generates concern and has very negative effects on the population that is the main subject of this vaccination,” said the minister.

Colombia registers more than 1.83 million coronavirus infections, as well as 47,124 deaths from COVID-19.

President Iván Duque on Wednesday extended the so-called “selective quarantine” until the end of February amid a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Duque authorized mayors and governors to restrict the mobility of people when necessary, as well as when the occupancy level of ICUs increases.

In the capital Bogotá, where Mayor Claudia López ordered strict quarantines in various areas of the city, ICU occupancy for COVID-19 patients is 92.7%, according to local government figures.

In Medellín and Cali, the second and third largest cities in the country, ICU occupancy stands at 90.3% and 97.3%, respectively.

At the end of 2020, doctors in Colombia called for new quarantines to be declared to help curb the increase in the number of cases. (Report by Oliver Grifin, Written by Luis Jaime Acosta, Edited by Manuel Farías)

More from Author Ben Oakley here:

Ben Oakley
Ben Oakley is the guy you can really trust when it comes to Mainstream News. Whether it is something happening at the Wall Street of New York City or inside the White House in Washington, D.C., no one can cover mainstream news like Ben. Get a daily dose of Trustworthy News by Ben Oakley, only at Globe Live Media.