Colombia will not ease quarantine in capital, cities hit hard by coronavirus

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia issued new measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus in three of its most affected cities on Saturday, including the capital Bogota, as the rest of the country prepares for quarantine rules to start lifting.

The Andean country has reported more than 26,600 cases of the coronavirus and 853 deaths.

Colombia began a nationwide quarantine in late March to control the spread of COVID-19. On Thursday, the government extended the lockdown until July 1, but eased some restrictions.

All of Colombia will observe current measures until Sunday, as thousands of businesses are gradually re-opening with safety protocols and reduced staff.

However, Bogota and the cities of Cali and Cartagena, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, will not see rules relaxed, the government said in a statement.

Bogota has reported more than 9,000 of Colombia’s coronavirus cases and 239 deaths. Cali and Cartagena have reported over 2,400 and more than 2,600 cases, respectively.

Cali and Cartagena have registered 105 and 126 deaths.

The cities must follow current quarantine measures and will perform close monitoring and screening until June 15, the government said.

The cities must establish epidemiological barriers in key commercial areas and neighborhoods, and promote wide use of an application designed to track coronavirus cases.

Latin America’s fourth-largest economy has been battered by the double shock of measures to slow the virus and a slump in oil prices.

Under the eased restrictions, children aged two to five will be allowed outside for 30 minutes three times a week, as will adults over 70 years of age.

Those from six to 17-years old will be permitted outside for up to an hour three times a week, while adults under 70 will be allowed outside for two hours each day.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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