Colombia reaches 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases
Colombia reached 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, becoming the second country in Latin America to report that number in less than a week.
The nation of 50 million saw cases peak in August and has seen a decline since but still continues to register around 8,000 new infections a day.
Epidemiologists expect to see another marked increase by the end of the year.
Argentina hit 1 million confirmed cases on Monday and Peru and Mexico are expected to reach the grim marker in the weeks ahead.
Brazil ranks third worldwide in the number of virus cases and passed 1 million infections back in June.
Colombia has become the eighth country to hit 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases. Besides Argentina and Brazil, the others are the United States, India, Russia, France and Spain, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Overall, Latin America continues to register some of the highest caseloads, diagnosing more than 100,000 confirmed infections each day, though the World Health Organisation reports that Europe is now seeing even larger numbers as a second virus wave strikes.
Experts say the region is experiencing a table-top like effect in which cases remain relatively high instead of dramatically dropping.
The behaviour of the virus is different. It’s not big resurgences but new outbreaks
In a number of countries, the virus has begun spreading to areas that had previously registered relatively few cases.
“The behaviour of the virus is different,” said Dr Luis Jorge Hernandez, a public health professor at the University of the Andes in Colombia.
“It’s not big resurgences but new outbreaks.”
In Colombia, a six-month lockdown helped slow contagion and gave officials time to expand the number of ICU beds.
While cases rose dramatically in the capital Bogota, stretching hospital capacity, the city has managed to avoid the sorts of dire scenes seen elsewhere in the region of patients lined up outside hospitals, struggling to find a bed.
The path of the virus through Latin America is a consequence of weak public health systems, poverty and poor government decisions early on that resulted in flawed or limited testing and little contact tracing.
Today the region is home to half the 10 countries with the highest total cases around the globe.