Colombia has been successful in flattening the coronavirus curve. A big question many people have is “When will the quarantine be lifted in Colombia?”. The current nationwide Colombia quarantine is until May 31, what happens on May 31?

To answer this question, we first look at coronavirus cases in Colombia and the trend of new cases in Colombia and the three biggest cities: Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. Also, we look at the success Colombia is having in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout the country.

In addition, we look at the increase of COVID-19 testing in Colombia and the impacts of the quarantine on the economy in Colombia. Finally, we look at what the Colombian government has said.

But we believe changes are very likely, as the harm to the Colombian economy is tremendous. Also, about 29 percent of the population in Colombia lives in cities or towns without a single coronavirus case.

EDITORS NOTE: on May 19, 2020, President Duque confirmed that Colombia is extending the national quarantine for another week until May 31.

The mandatory quarantine in Colombia that started on March 24 has been extended until May 31 and the health emergency in Colombia has been extended until August 31.

The Colombian borders will continue to be closed and there will be no inter-municipal land transport permitted. Also, there will be no domestic flights during this period from June 1 to June 30. But the government is working on protocols for resuming flights in later phases. Also, according to the Minister of transport, international flights will be restricted until August 31.

A new phase will begin from June 1 to 30 with the reactivation of museums, libraries and some other businesses. Also, starting in June, starts an “intelligent lockdown” that would allow the relaxation of restriction of movement measures based on regional conditions. These regional relaxation measures will be expanded “gradually” to recover productive life.

In addition, those over 70 will remain in isolation until June 30. But guidelines will be released so that between June 1 to 30 those over 70 are allowed to have some time outside, with precautions and limitations.

A Flatter Coronavirus Trajectory Curve for Colombia

As a result of Colombia rapidly implementing preventive measures, Colombia is experiencing a flatter curve for coronavirus cases than several other countries, as seen in the following graphic (Colombia is the dark blue line at the bottom of the graphic):

Coronavirus Trajectory Curve by Country, Total Number of cases on # of Days Past 100 Cases, data source John Hopkins University, 4/19

Coronavirus Trajectory Curve by Country, Total Number of cases on # of Days Past 100 Cases, data source John Hopkins University, 4/19

Coronavirus Cases in Colombia

Colombia Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) reported the number of coronavirus cases in Colombia on May 24 – a total of 21,175 cases with 727 deaths. 

The first coronavirus case in Colombia was on March 6, 2020 and by May 24, the number of cases had grown to 21,175 cases. The following chart shows a running 6-day average of new coronavirus cases in Colombia, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

6-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

This rolling 6-day average chart for Colombia shows that on average, the number of new cases started to drop in Colombia after reaching a peak but then started to increase again. The increase is mainly due to an increase in cases in eight cities in Colombia.

Red Cities in Colombia – Major Increase of Cases in Past 33 Days

In the 33 days from April 22 to May 24, a total of 80.3 percent of the coronavirus cases in Colombia were in the eight cities of Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Leticia, San Andrés de Tumaco, Soledad and Villavicencio, with the eight cities in Colombia averaging 414 cases per day. The rest of Colombia during these same 33 days averaged only 102 cases per day.

Bogotá is the largest city in Colombia with the most cases. Villavicencio has been experiencing a major outbreak of coronavirus in a prison and there has been an outbreak of cases in the Amazon (Leticia).

In addition, four smaller cities than Medellín (Cartagena, Barranquilla San Andrés de Tumaco and Soledad), experienced outbreaks in cases and passed the larger city of Medellín in number of cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of new coronavirus cases in Colombia along with the 6-day running average in the eight red cities and the rest of Colombia. Note the red line is the eight red cities and the blue line is all the rest of the cities in Colombia. And the black line is a running 6-day average of cases for all of Colombia.

6-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

6-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

Clearly this chart shows the increase in coronavirus cases in Colombia over the past 32 days is primarily due to a substantial increase in cases in only the eight cities of Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Leticia, San Andrés de Tumaco, Soledad and Villavicencio. The rest of Colombia (blue linenot including these eight cities has a relatively flat curve of new cases.

Also, we have a separate article that looks at the eight cities in Colombia with a major increase in coronavirus cases in more detail.

We next look at at the coronavirus case trends in Bogotá, Cali and Medellín, the three biggest cities in Colombia.

Coronavirus Cases in Bogotá

On May 24, Bogotá had 7,211 cases, which was 34.1 percent of the total 21,175 cases in Colombia. The first case in Bogotá was on March 6, 2020. The peak of new daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá was reached on May 23 with 382 cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Bogotá, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

This rolling 6-day average chart for Bogotá shows that on average, the number of new cases started to drop in Bogotá after reaching a peak but then started to increase again heading to a new average peak, which impacted the overall Colombia curve.

Coronavirus Cases in Cali

On May 24, Cali had 1,911 cases, which was 9.0 percent of the total 20,177 cases in Colombia. The first case in Cali was on March 15, 2020. The peak of new daily coronavirus cases in Cali was reached on May 22 with 105 cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Cali, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Cali, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Cali, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

This rolling 6-day average chart shows that on average, the number of new cases started to drop in Cali after reaching a peak and then started heading up again.

Coronavirus Cases in Medellín

On May 24, Medellín had 441 cases, which was 2.2 percent of the total 20,177 cases in Colombia. The first case in Medellín was on March 9, 2020. The peak of new daily coronavirus cases in Medellín was reached on May 23 with 35 cases.

The following chart shows a running 6-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Medellín, so you can see the trend of new cases for more than the past month.

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Medellín, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

6-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases in Medellín, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/24

This rolling 6-day average trend chart shows that on average, the number of new cases started to drop in Medellín after reaching a peak, then started to head up to higher peak and dropped again to below four cases per day on average and then has started increasing again.

COVID-19 Testing in Colombia

On May 24, 2020, Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) reported that it had completed a total of 252,742 COVID-19 tests in Colombia.

This means that Colombia has completed 4,979 COVID-19 tests per million people in Colombia based on a population of 50.8 million.

The testing rate for COVID-19 should increase in Colombia. On April 9, INS said it plans to have capacity for 17,000 tests per day in a month. But this goal is questionable, as Colombia in the week May 11 to 17, Colombia completed less than 46,000 tests in an entire week.

On April 9, INS said it had 17 labs doing COVID-19 tests with plans to have 20 more labs starting tests in the following week. And by April 15, INS reported it had 47 labs doing COVID-19 tests with plans to increase this to 70 labs.

Colombia has been ramping up testing for coronavirus over the past several weeks as seen in the following graphic:

Counts of COVID-19 tests in Colombia by week, source Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/17

Counts of COVID-19 tests in Colombia by week, source Instituto Nacional de Salud, 5/17

For the week of May 4-10, Colombia averaged 4,656 tests per day. And the week of May 11-17, Colombia averaged 6,432 tests per day.

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

Coronavirus Cases in Colombia are NOT Nationwide

On May 24, 2020, the majority of coronavirus cases – 19,482 cases – (92.0 percent) of the cases in Colombia were in only 10 departments (states) in Colombia out of 33 departments (including the district capital of Bogotá):

  1. Bogotá DC – 7,211 cases
  2. Atlántico – 2,774 cases
  3. Valle del Cauca – 2,425 cases
  4. Bolivar – 2,267 cases
  5. Amazonas – 1,450 cases
  6. Antioquia – 720 cases
  7. Meta – 968 cases
  8. Nariño – 709 cases
  9. Magdelena – 492 cases
  10. Cundinamarca – 466 cases

Also, on May 24, there were three departments (states) in Colombia without a single coronavirus case: Guainía, Guaviare and Vichada.

Coronavirus Cases by City in Colombia

Also, in terms of cities in Colombia on May 24, 2020, the majority of coronavirus cases – 18,325 cases – (86.5 percent) were in only 18 cities in Colombia:

  1. Bogotá – 7,211 cases
  2. Cartagena – 2,117 cases
  3. Cali – 1,911 cases
  4. Barranquilla – 1,450 cases
  5. Leticia – 1,410 cases
  6. Villavicencio – 932 cases
  7. Soledad – 812 cases
  8. San Andrés de Tumaco – 464 cases
  9. Medellín – 441 cases
  10. Santa Marta – 273 cases
  11. Buenaventura –  232 cases
  12. Malambo – 218 cases
  13. Pereira – 168 cases
  14. Soacha – 164 cases
  15. Ibagué – 149 cases
  16. Neiva – 141 cases
  17. Ipiales – 123 cases
  18. Puebloviejo – 109 cases

On May 24, Medellin Guru reviewed a list of 1,099 municipalities in Colombia and found that over 780 did not have a single coronavirus case. The over 780 municipalities without a case on May 24 have a total population of 11.9 million, which is about 23 percent of the total population of Colombia.

So, about 23 percent of the total population in Colombia lives in a city or town, which as of May 24 hadn’t yet had a single coronavirus case after over 50 days of being under quarantine.

What Happens When a City or Town No Longer Has Coronavirus Cases?

As of May 24, over 80 of the over 330 cities and towns in Colombia with at least one reported coronavirus case haven’t experienced a new case in over two weeks, as seen in the following table:

Colombian cities and towns with coronavirus cases without a new case in over 14 days, data source INS, 5/24

Colombian cities and towns with coronavirus cases without a new case in over 14 days, data source INS, 5/24

The incubation period of coronavirus is 14 days. And Colombia is starting to experience cities and towns with coronavirus cases that haven’t reported a new case in over 14 days, which is a good sign.

So, on May 24, a total of 24 percent out of over 330 cities and towns in Colombia with reported coronavirus cases hadn’t experienced a new case in over 14 days.

The Quarantine Impacts on the Colombian Economy

At the beginning of 2020, Banco de la República in Colombia projected that the Colombian economy would grow 3.7 percent in 2020.

Today the situation is completely different, due to the coronavirus pandemic and a national quarantine shutting down much of Colombia’s economy.

According to Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, the Colombian economy is expected to contract by 1.5 to 2 percent in 2020, influenced by the effect of the April-June quarter that would be “the worst in Colombia’s economic history”.

But a 1.5 to 2 percent contraction is highly questionable unless Colombia lifts the quarantine quickly and the economy recovers rapidly. If the nationwide quarantine continues for much longer, the harm to Colombia’s economy will be immense.

The Fedesarrollo think tank updated its growth projections for Colombia and for a scenario with a weak recovery in private consumption for the remainder of the year, this would lead to a fall in GDP of 7.9 percent in 2020 and unemployment hitting 20.5 percent.

The most optimistic outlook from Fedesarrollo implies a contraction of the economy of 2.7 percent for this year and an unemployment rate at the end of 2020 of 16.3 percent. According to Fedesarrollo, the hardest hit sectors of the economy include trade, transportation, tourism, food services, entertainment and construction.

In addition, according to Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE) micro, small and medium-sized companies represent 80 percent of Colombia’s employment. The small and medium business are experiencing huge issues with working capital, unable to pay employees and many have already shut down.

The risk of continuing the quarantine much longer is that many small businesses in Colombia will likely fail and unemployment could skyrocket in Colombia.

What Has the Government Said – When Will the Quarantine be Lifted in Colombia?

On April 16, Colombia’s health minister indicated that the government plans to lift quarantine measures for “certain sectors of the economy” while maintaining a general lockdown.

In a virtual session with Congress, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz confirmed President Ivan Duque’s plan to “recover productive life without social life” in Colombia starting on April 27 when the current nationwide Colombia quarantine ends:

The strategy will be to maintain obligatory preventative lockdown for specific groups and maintain the obligatory preventive lockdown for the entire population with the option of a very systematic, very gradual and very controlled global opening of some sectors of the economy.

On May 19, the national quarantine was extended for a fourth time to May 31. So, the national quarantine is now for 68 days.

However, the quarantine extension from April 27 until May 11 started to lift the quarantine. President Duque announced that the mandatory quarantine, will allow, with very strict protocols, to open the manufacturing and construction sectors of the economy in Colombia.

Other sectors of the economy including textiles, clothing and leather; chemical substances; wood, paper and cardboard; metals and electronic equipment were also permitted to return to work on April 27.

Also, starting on May 11, several additional sectors were be permitted to return to work:

  1. Manufacture of furniture, mattresses and bed bases.
  2. Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers.
  3. Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products.
  4. Manufacture of machinery and equipment.
  5. Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles.
  6. Maintenance and repair of technology and computer equipment.
  7. Wholesale and retail trade of vehicles (including parts, pieces and accessories).
  8. Wholesale trade of furniture and household goods.
  9. Wholesale trade of machinery and equipment.
  10. Retail trade of pet products.
  11. Retail trade of construction materials, hardware, locksmiths and glass and paint products in specialized stores.
  12. Retail trade of fuels, lubricants, additives and cleaning products for motor vehicles in specialized establishments.
  13. Retail trade of books, newspapers, materials, stationery and desks in specialized stores.
  14. Laundry services at home.
  15. Activities related to the operation of establishments providing vehicle maintenance services, appliances, boats, agricultural or fishing machinery, according to the different modes of transport, as well as the establishments in which the supply and / or installation of vehicles spare parts.
  16. Automotive diagnostic centers.

During the quarantine extension to May 31, events will not take place and bars and discos will remain closed, restaurants can only provide domicilio (delivery) and universities and other schools will remain closed.

Also, Duque reiterated that domestic and international flights will not be opened in Colombia until the end of June.

In terms of municipalities in which coronavirus infections have not yet been confirmed with coronavirus cases, President Duque on April 20 said:

In hundreds of municipalities in Colombia, there have been no cases of COVID-19, so there we are going to promote a productive economic recovery but maintaining all the protocols for the protection of health and life.

So, according to President Duque, it appears that Colombia will be starting to lift the quarantine even more in cities and towns and departments (states) without a coronavirus presence. We found that 24 percent of the population of Colombia lives in over 800 cities, towns and pueblos in Colombia that haven’t reported a single coronavirus case.

COVID-19 Free Municipalities Can Open on May 11

In the municipalities without affectation of COVID-19, all the economic opening will be allowed starting on May 11, with some exceptions: billiards, casinos and discotheques, churches, parks, gyms and sporting events.

This measure will only apply if the mayor expressly requests the Ministry of the Interior to reopen the sectors or activities that he deems pertinent and prior certification from the Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) in this regard.

To guarantee that the municipalities remain uncontaminated, the local authorities must implement biosecurity measures at their borders.

Once the existence of a case of contagion in a municipality by the INS is certified, the opening of economic sectors carried out should be automatically restricted and the quarantine reestablished in general for the affected municipality. So, municipalities that open up need to remain virus free.

Starting on May 18, Colombia started to lift the quarantine in 90 COVID-19 free municipalities, so they can start to return to normal. And over 100 municipalities in Antioquia were also permitted to start to lift the quarantine.

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 – When Will the Quarantine Be Lifted in Colombia?

The bottom line is the measures that Colombia has put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a flatter curve and  new coronavirus cases are starting to drop in Colombia. Also, Colombia appears to have been successful in preventing the spread of coronavirus throughout Colombia.

The challenge facing Colombia is now how to open things back up without increasing the rate of infections.

Watch carefully the number of new cases reported in Colombia daily. Each day we update our popular article about coronavirus in Colombia with the current coronavirus statistics. If a downward trend continues, it becomes more likely that lockdowns will continue to be relaxed.

When will the quarantine be lifted in Colombia? When this article was first published on April 17, we expected to see some partial lifting on April 27 with some sectors of the economy slowly opened up.

And we were correct, as on April 27, several sectors of the economy including manufacturing and construction were permitted to return to work. This is a total of up to 6 million Colombians permitted to return to work. And additional sectors of the economy will be permitted to return to work starting slowly on May 11.

Also, we hoped when this article was published on April 17, that Colombia should consider that over one-third of  the population in Colombia lives in municipalities that don’t have any coronavirus cases reported or haven’t reported a new case in over two weeks.

These municipalities without any cases don’t need the more stringent restrictions that are put in place in Bogotá, which has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Colombia. And it appears that Colombia will consider lifting some quarantine restrictions in municipalities without any cases.

Also, watch the COVID-19 testing numbers in Colombia. We update our popular article about COVID-19 testing in Colombia daily. If COVID-19 testing numbers continue to increase, this is a very good thing, as this will help identify more of those who are infected in Colombia.

Ideally, testing could be used to check not only everyone who has symptoms but also their close contacts, so they could be identified as infected, isolated or quarantined as well.

Furthermore, we don’t expect that international travel to Colombia will be permitted any time soon, considering the much higher coronavirus infection rates in many other countries in the world. According to President Duque on April 20, national and international flights will not be opened until at least the end of May.

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Editors note: updated on May 1, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for April 30.

Editors note: updated on May 2, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 1.

Editors note: updated on May 2, 2020 at 9:30 pm with coronavirus statistics for May 2.

Editors note: updated on May 4, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 3.

Editors note: updated on May 5, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 4.

Editors note: updated on May 6, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 5 and added information about the quarantine in Colombia being extended to May 25.

Editors note: updated on May 6, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 6.

Editors note: updated on May 8, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 7.

Editors note: updated on May 9, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 8.

Editors note: updated on May 10, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 9.

Editors note: updated on May 11, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 10.

Editors note: updated on May 12, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 11.

Editors note: updated on May 13, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 12.

Editors note: updated on May 15, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 14.

Editors note: updated on May 16, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 15.

Editors note: updated on May 17, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 16.

Editors note: updated on May 18, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 17.

Editors note: updated on May 19, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 18 and added information that the quarantine in Colombia is extended to May 31.

Editors note: updated on May 20, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 19.

Editors note: updated on May 21, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 20.

Editors note: updated on May 22, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 21.

Editors note: updated on May 23, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 22.

Editors note: updated on May 24, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 23.

Editors note: updated on May 25, 2020 with coronavirus statistics for May 24.

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