Coronavirus in Colombia: We look at current Coronavirus statistics in Colombia and the measures taken by Colombia to minimize the threat of COVID-19.

Colombia Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) reported the number of coronavirus cases in Colombia on January 21 – a total of 1,972,345 cases (up +15,366 new cases from January 20) with 50,187 deaths.

Also on January 21, Colombia reported 14,964 new recoveries and a total of 1,801,134 recoveries, as of this date. Furthermore, on January 21, Colombia had 115,502 active coronavirus cases.

The following chart shows the current status of coronavirus cases in Colombia on January 21. Only 6 percent of total coronavirus cases were active on this date and 91 percent were recovered.

Current status of coronavirus cases in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Current status of coronavirus cases in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Many Medellin Guru readers have asked about the current status of coronavirus in Colombia. So, we look at coronavirus cases in Colombia and compare to other countries in Latin America and look in detail at what measures Colombia is taking.

As of January 21, 2021, at 5:00 pm, according to Worldometers over 200 countries and territories in the world have reported that over 97,955,100 people have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, known as SARS-CoV2. And over 2,095,800 people have died from this virus worldwide and over 70,340,400 have recovered.  

In addition, there are a number of myths out there about coronavirus that are simply not true. So, we also look at four of these myths in this article.

There was a nationwide quarantine in Colombia that began on March 24. Colombia’s initial nationwide quarantine was originally ending on April 13 but it has been extended eight times but ended on September 1:

  1. On April 6, was extended to April 26
  2. On April 20, was extended to May 11.
  3. A third time was extended to May 25
  4. A fourth time was extended to May 31
  5. A fifth time was extended to June 30
  6. On June 23, was extended a sixth time to July 15
  7. On July 7, was extended a seventh time to August 1
  8. On July 28, was extended an eighth time to September 1

So, the national quarantine in Colombia was for 160 days and was one of the longest in the world the quarantine officially ended on September 1.

Colombia is now in a “selective Isolation” phase until February 28, 2021, which prioritizes the tracing of contacts, infections and suspects and reactivates economic and social life. Also, the health emergency in Colombia has been extended to February 28, 2021

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

Coronavirus Cases in Colombia

The first coronavirus case in Colombia was on March 6, 2020 and by January 21 the number of cases had grown to 1,972,345 cases. The following chart shows a running 7-day average of new coronavirus cases in Colombia daily, so you can see the trend of new daily cases for more than the past month.

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Coronavirus Cases By Department in Colombia

The following table shows the total number of cases of coronavirus in Colombia in the departamentos (departments or states) in Colombia on January 21, according to INS. Also, the table includes the number of new daily cases on January 21.

Coronavirus counts on January 21, source Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) Jan. 21

Coronavirus counts on January 21, source Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) Jan. 21

Coronavirus Cases in the Aburrá Valley

We also look coronavirus case counts on January 21 in the 10 municipalities in the Aburrá Valley metropolitan area where Medellín is located with the change from the prior day in parenthesis (if any change) and the date of the last case in the municipality,

  • Medellín – 175,048 cases (+1,060) 21-Jan
  • Bello – 26,154 cases (+123) –  21-Jan
  • Itagüí – 17,150 cases (+106) – 21-Jan
  • Envigado – 15,860 cases (+87) – 21-Jan
  • Caldas – 6,324 cases (+50) – 21-Jan
  • Sabaneta – 6,004 cases (+38) – 21-Jan
  • Copacabana – 4,280 cases (+17) – 21-Jan
  • La Estrella – 3,660 cases (+29) – 21-Jan
  • Girardota – 2,125 cases (+9) – 21-Jan
  • Barbosa – 1,121 cases (+4) – 21-Jan

On January 21, the 10 municipalities in the Aburrá Valley had a total of 257,907 confirmed coronavirus cases. Also, on January 21, the ICU occupation in Antioquia was 91.30 percent out of a total of 1,287 ICUs in Antioquia.

Coronavirus Cases in Other Cities in Colombia

EDITOR NOTE: Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) no longer reliably and timely updates their database with coronavirus statistics by city in Colombia. So, we will no longer provide a detailed list of coronavirus counts for over 35 cities daily, as we did in the past.

We now only look at five other cities in Colombia daily, this is data from January 20:

  • Bogotá – 576,011 cases (+4,061) 21-Jan
  • Cali – 111,563 cases (+1,060) 21-Jan
  • Barranquilla – 65,259 cases (+165) –  21-Jan
  • Cartagena – 65,259 cases (+354) – 21-Jan
  • Santa Marta – 19,911 cases (+179) – 21-Jan

As of January 21, Bogotá was the city in Colombia impacted most in Colombia by coronavirus with 576,011 cases, which was 29.2 percent of the total cases in Colombia.

If you want to see coronavirus case counts in other cities and towns in Colombia you can see this on the Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) website. There is a muncipio tab where you can find detailed coronavirus information by municipality in Colombia.

COVID-19 Testing in Colombia

On January 21, 2021, Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) in Colombia reported that it had completed a total of 9,419,927 COVID-19 tests in Colombia.

This means that Colombia has completed 184,833 COVID-19 tests per million people in Colombia based on a population of 50.96 million.

We compare this COVID-19 testing in Colombia with several other countries in Latin America as well to the U.S., UK and South Korea in the following table.

COVID-19 testing in several countries, source of data Worldometer and countries, Jan. 21

COVID-19 testing in several countries, source of data Worldometer and countries, Jan. 21

The testing rate for COVID-19 is increasing in Colombia. For the week of January 11 to 17  Colombia averaged 63,962 tests per day. This was up dramatically from the week of August 3-16, when Colombia averaged 39,237 tests per day.  

In addition, the most tests Colombia has completed in one day was on January 14, 2021 with 93,302 tests.

We have a separate article that looks at COVID-19 testing in Colombia in more detail.

More Details on the Coronavirus Cases in Colombia

EDITOR NOTE: this section is NOT yet updated for January 21, update to be completed no later than January 22 when data is available.

The following chart shows a breakout of coronavirus cases on January 21:

Current status of coronavirus cases in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Current status of coronavirus cases in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

On January 21, Colombia had 115,502 active coronavirus cases. The vast majority of active coronavirus cases in Colombia are isolated at home and treated at home. A total of 18.0 percent of active cases were hospitalized in Colombia on January 21 according to INS out of the active cases that have not recovered or died.

On January 21, 18,255 active and confirmed coronavirus cases were in hospital rooms plus another 2,500 confirmed cases in the ICU for a total of 20,755 cases in the hospital.

But there are also suspected coronavirus cases in the ICU and other patients in the ICU. So, ICU utilization has surpassed 70 percent in some cities and towns in Colombia. We have a separate article that looks at coronavirus hospitalization in Colombia in more detail including the capacity of hospitals and ICU rooms in Colombia and utilization of ICUs.

The number of active cases in Colombia has started to drop many days with more recoveries and deaths stating to happen than new cases on some days. The following chart shows the total active cases in Colombia by day:

Total active coronavirus cases by day in Colombia, source: Worldometers, Jan. 20

Total active coronavirus cases by day in Colombia, source: Worldometers, Jan. 20

The following chart shows the age distribution of the coronavirus cases in Colombia on January 21:

Age distribution of coronavirus cases in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Age distribution of coronavirus cases in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

In addition, 48.89 percent of coronavirus cases in Colombia on January 21 were male and 51.11 percent were female.

Colombia Coronavirus Death Rate

On January 21, Colombia reported a total of 50,187 deaths from coronavirus, which was a daily increase of 390 reported deaths from the previous day on January 20.

Based on a total of 50,187 deaths and a total of 1,972,345 cases, the overall coronavirus death rate in Colombia among confirmed cases on January 21 was 2.5 percent.

However, the death rate in Colombia varies based on age and we have a separate article that looks at the coronavirus death rate in Colombia by age and compares to other countries.

The following graph shows the daily coronavirus deaths in Colombia by the date deaths were reported by INS.

Daily reported coronavirus deaths in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Daily reported coronavirus deaths in Colombia, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Jan. 21

Note that there is a lag between the dates of actual deaths from coronavirus and reporting of deaths. So, the above chart of daily reported deaths does not show the true picture.

For example, the following chart shows that on October 24, 187 of the 198 reported deaths on this date actually occurred on earlier dates. This chart shows that the daily coronavirus deaths by actual death dates in Colombia (not reported dates) have been declining since mid-August.

Daily coronavirus deaths in Colombia on the actual dates of deaths, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Nov. 5

Daily coronavirus deaths in Colombia on the actual dates of deaths, source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Nov. 5

Coronavirus Deaths in Other Countries in Latin America and the World

On January 21, Colombia was ranked #27 in the World in terms of coronavirus deaths per million according to Worldometers. Five countries in Latin America had a higher coronavirus death rate per million population than Colombia. The following are country rankings for deaths per million in several Latin American countries from Worldometers on January 21.

  • Peru #16
  • Panama #19
  • Mexico #20
  • Argentina #25
  • Brazil #26
  • Colombia #27

Many foreign tourists that arrived in Colombia in early 2020 renewed tourist visas to enable staying in Colombia for up to 180 days instead of returning to their home country where coronavirus case counts are much higher and increasing at alarming rates.

In addition, some of these foreign tourist are pursuing Colombian visas to enable staying in Colombia longer.

What is Colombia Doing About Coronavirus?

On March 19, 2020, President Iván Duque announced that starting on March 23 the arrival of international travelers to Colombia will be suspended for a period of 30 days including banning incoming international flights. This ban includes all travelers including Colombians and foreigner residents. International flights were banned until international flights resumed starting on September 19. 

The following measures were put in place starting on March 12 in Colombia to minimize the public health threats posed by coronavirus.

All events with more than 50 people must be cancelled in Colombia starting on March 16. This impacts many planned events in Colombia. So, many events including concerts, conventions and other large events are cancelled.

In addition, Colombia has suspended the transit of cruise ships to Colombia.  Furthermore, at 5:00 am on March 14 Colombia closed its border with Venezuela Also, starting on March 17, Colombia closed all its land, sea and river borders, which were still closed until November 1. The border closure restricted the entry and exit from Colombia.

Quarantines in Colombia Due to Coronavirus

Major cities in Colombia including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Cartagena were under quarantines over the Saint Joseph’s Day (Día de San José) holiday weekend in Colombia from March 20 to March 24. So, up to about a third of Colombia was locked down during this initial period:

Quarantine for all of Colombia from March 24 to September 1 – 160 days 

President Iván Duque announced at night on March 20 that Colombia would have a mandatory nationwide quarantine from Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 pm, until Monday, April 13 at midnight.

But this quarantine in Colombia was extended eight times and was until September 1 when the quarantine ended. So, the national quarantine in Colombia was for a total of 160 days.

Also, President Duque tweeted that “Essential activities, such as access to health services, purchase of food and medicine, access to banking and postal services, provision of essential public services and security services, among others, will be guaranteed.” We have a separate article about the quarantine in Colombia.

Flatten the coronavirus case curve, source CDC

Flatten the coronavirus case curve, source CDC

Why Quarantine and Other Measures? – Flatten the Curve

With a nationwide quarantine, Colombia was trying to avoid a rapid spike of coronavirus cases that could overwhelm the health care system in Colombia by “flattening the curve,” or spreading out the number of coronavirus cases over a longer period.

Mitigation efforts like a quarantine, cancelling international flights, closing places where people congregate and limiting the size of events and quarantines are mitigation efforts that can reduce the number of daily cases and reduce pressure on the healthcare system in Colombia.

Colombian acted faster than most countries in putting in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The following table compares how many days from the first case of coronavirus in several countries until putting in place measures like closing schools nationwide or closing incoming air travel.

How many days from first coronavirus case in countries until put in place preventive measures, March 23, 2020

How many days from first coronavirus case in countries until put in place preventive measures, March 23, 2020

What is Coronavirus and How Does it Compare to the Flu?

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Myth 1 – If you have coronavirus, “you will know”

Not really, COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms, many of which are common in other respiratory illnesses such as the common cold or flu.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, similar to other respiratory illnesses. And rarer symptoms include nausea, dizziness, vomiting and a runny nose.

In severe cases of COVID-19, the disease can progress into a serious pneumonia-like illness — but early on, infected people may show no symptoms at all.

The virus causes mild respiratory infections in about 80 percent of those infected, though up to half will have pneumonia. Another 15 percent develop severe illness, and about 5 percent need critical care.

Myth 2 – Coronavirus is less deadly than the flu

Reportedly the COVID-19 coronavirus has a transmissibility rate estimated from 2.0 to 2.5 people that an infected person typically makes sick. This compares to the flu (influenza) with a transmissibility rate from 1.3 to 1.8 people. And SARS has a transmissibility rate from 2 to 4 people.

Case-fatality ratio is the number of people killed by disease divided by the number of people confirmed to catch it. Seasonal flu, technically kills a relatively small proportion of its cases, with a case-fatality ratio of around 0.1 percent.

The reason the flu is a major public health problem is because it infects many people, 35.5 million in the U.S. from 2018 to 2019, which led to 490,000 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths.

SARS had a case-fatality rate of 10 percent, about 100 times higher than influenza, and the rate for the new coronavirus case-fatality rate is reportedly about 3.4 percent of reported cases.

Myth 3 – Children and young adults are more likely to die from coronavirus infections

The China CDC reported on February 11 based on data from 72,314 cases of those diagnosed with COVID-19 and found that older adults in China have been hit the hardest by COVID-19:

  • 14.8 percent death rate for those infected with ages 80 and older,
  • 8 percent for ages 70 to 79,
  • 3.6 percent for ages 60 to 69,
  • 1.3 percent for 50 to 59,
  • 0.4 percent for the age group 40 to 49,
  • 0.2 percent for people ages 10 to 39,
  • No deaths in children under 9 reported.

We have a separate article about the coronavirus death rate in Colombia with death rates being experienced in Colombia by age.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

According to the CDC in the U.S.:

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness like COVID-19 with everyday preventive actions.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Also, if you are sick to keep from spreading respiratory illness like coronavirus to others you should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with tissues, then throw the tissues in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Wear a face-mask if you are sick and around other people.
Flyers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport wearing facemasks as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, photo by Chad Davis

Flyers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport wearing facemasks as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, photo by Chad Davis

Myth 4 – Face masks can protect you from the virus

Standard face masks cannot really protect you, as they are not designed to block out viral particles and they do not lay flush to the face. A more specialized mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against the virus.

According to the CDC:

Face masks are loose-fitting and provide only barrier protection against droplets, including large respiratory particles. Most face masks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.

The role of face masks is for patient source control, to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes.  Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a face mask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home.

So, a standard face masks can’t really protect you from the virus. But China and other countries in Asia have using face masks widely. George Gao, Director-General of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even said:

The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.

If everyone wore a mask, then those in public who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic would not so easily spread to others.

Colombia has 24 of the Best Hospitals in Latin America

Colombia has 24 of the Best Hospitals in Latin America

Healthcare in Colombia

Colombia has 24 of the top 58 clinics and hospitals in Latin America, according to a study in late 2019 by América Economia. So, 41 percent of the best hospitals in Latin America are found in Colombia. Nine of these best hospitals in Latin America are located in Medellín and nine are in Bogotá.

In 2017, Colombia had 20 of the top 49 clinics and hospitals in Latin America. And in 2018, Colombia had 23 of the top 58 hospitals. So, the count in 2019 has increased to 24 of the top 58 clinics and hospitals in Latin America for 2019.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked. And no other countries in Latin America were ranked higher than Colombia. So, according to WHO, Colombia has the best healthcare system in Latin America.

Also, Colombia’s healthcare system is ranked higher than many wealthier countries like the United States (#37), Germany (#25), Canada (#30) and Australia (#32).

In Colombia, it is possible to have access to world-class healthcare at a fraction of the cost compared to the healthcare costs in North America or Europe. Furthermore, the costs for healthcare in Colombia can be significantly lower than the costs found in the U.S.

Due to having the best healthcare system in Latin America, Colombia is probably better positioned than many other countries in Latin America to handle coronavirus.

Health Insurance in Colombia

Health insurance is relatively inexpensive in Colombia and will cover you if you happen to catch COVID-19.

One of the reasons that Colombia has such a highly rated healthcare system is due to a new constitution that Colombia drafted in 1991 that made access to healthcare a basic human right to all citizens of Colombia, as well as foreign residents of Colombia.

There are three types of health insurance available in Colombia:

  1. EPS – Entidadas Promotoras de Salud– this is the public health insurance that is mandatory for everybody who is a resident of Colombia. The monthly premium is calculated as 12.5 percent of the monthly gross income that you declare to the EPS.
  2. Prepagada – this is private healthcare insurance in Colombia. The monthly premium for Prepagada varies depending on your age, the plan you choose and any pre-existing conditions.
  3. SISBEN – this is a free government subsidized healthcare system, which is only for very poor or homeless Colombians.

Medellin Guru has partnered with an insurance broker to offer health insurance and other insurance products like life insurance, homeowners insurance and auto insurance to foreigners and Colombians.

We partnered with Angela Berrio, who is a bilingual insurance broker who speaks English and Spanish. And she has many foreigner clients.

Use the Medellin Guru Insurance Service

Angela’s company offers insurance services to all foreigners and Colombians who need assistance in their process of finding the best insurance protection while living in Colombia. With over ten years of experience, they design the plan that best fits your needs allowing you to enjoy your life abroad.

Number to Call in Medellín if You Think You Have Coronavirus

Medellín uses the 123 emergency phone number for coronavirus reports.

People who in the last two weeks have been in countries where the virus circulates, and who have symptoms such as cough, fever, nasal congestion and muscle fatigue, or who have been in contact with patients who meet with the above criteria can call this emergency number.

Medellín asks residents to make responsible use of this single line of emergencies, and also recommends consulting EPS health insurance websites.

Medellin Guru’s Coronavirus Series

Medellin Guru has a series of articles about the coronavirus pandemic and the impacts in Colombia: Also, these articles are being kept up-to-date, as this is a fast-moving topic:

The Bottom Line: Coronavirus in Colombia: Current Status

The bottom line is that Colombia had 1,972,345 coronavirus cases as of January 21, 2021 but 91 percent of these cases have recovered.

Also, the number of active cases have dropped substantially from over 160,000 active cases to 115,502 active cases.

Coronavirus is a fast-moving topic. So, Medellin Guru will be updating this popular article daily.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

Editors note: updated on January 17, 2021 at 9:30 pm with current coronavirus case counts for January 17.

Editors note: updated on January 19, 2021 at 5:45 am with current coronavirus case counts for January 18.

Editors note: updated on January 20, 2021 at 5:20 am with current coronavirus case counts for January 19.

Editors note: updated on January 21, 2021 at 4:45 am with current coronavirus case counts for January 20.

Editors note: updated on January 21, 2022 at 5:25 am with current coronavirus case counts for January 21.

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