Katherine Trujillo Useche
Latin Medicine and Public Health News Agency
With the threat of the second wave of COVID-19 infections, many countries in the world have decided to return to strict quarantine to contain the uncontrollable amount of infections, countries like France and Spain have enacted total confinement in the last week and in Colombia it seems that it will not be the exception , since the number of infections in this country has increased significantly, after opening a large part of the economic sectors, now, with the advance of the pandemic, they seek to limit the circulation of people and thus reduce the transmission speed of the recent coronavirus.
At the time, strict confinement was effective, as evidenced by several scientific studies and the statistics themselves, today it is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a last resort in a series of decisions that a country must take to fight against COVID-19.
WHO Director-General Tendros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week: “If governments can apply their contact tracking system and focus on isolating all cases and quarantining contacts,” it will be possible to avoid widespread confinement.
Widespread quarantines have again been taken into account in Europe, where half of the cases worldwide occur and there are no more UCIS. Ireland was the first European country to enact a second general blockade. Wales has adhered to this measure since last Friday and for several weeks.
However, for the time being, decisions made by the governments of that continent have focused on curfews, specific trade closures or places with high risk of contagion and local confinements.
Colombia and Latin America are experiencing an epidemiological moment different from the European one. While in that continent they are in a second wave of infections, in Latin America the numbers show a slow and steady decline and in the particular case of Colombia there is a kind of plateau of cases and mortality.
In this way, the Ministry of Health and the City of Bogotá have warned that a resumption of cases is possible in late November and early December, so they have insisted on individual responsibility as the first measure to control infections. .
Alejandro Gómez, district health secretary, adds that Bogotá can go through the second peak of the pandemic without strict confinement thanks to “the experience learned, the expansion of our ICUs from 940 to 2,200 in the city, in addition to the diagnosed care capacity and the DAR strategy ( Detected, Isolated and Reported) ”.
Former Health Minister Gabriel Riveros is clear in saying that a new total confinement would be a demonstration of a lack of understanding of the epidemiological situation at the national level. “I think there will certainly be a need for confinements in smaller areas defined according to available epidemiological information. This is to the extent that the country has several pandemics, since the evolution is different by regions, departments, as well as municipalities ”, he concludes.
Luis Jorge Hernández, a doctor in Public Health, agrees that the total quarantines no longer work because they have lost their effect and cause a lot of psychosocial and health damage due to events that are not prevented or treated. Three combined strategies have the same effectiveness: population adherence to the mask and hand washing; laboratory tests, tracking and contact isolation and gradual meter openings.
In turn, Carlos Eduardo Pérez, an infectologist, recalls that the general quarantine does not serve to eliminate the virus, but to delay its transmission and, in this sense, confinement would be only a decision based on health indicators such as ICU occupation and not in numbers The number of cases will depend on the response of the health system and not the affected populations.
Carlos Álvares, national coordinator of WHO’s COVID-19 studies, says that the case of Colombia is different from that of Europe because in Colombia confinement did not lead to suppression, but to a reduction in the effective reproductive number. There is always the possibility of total confinement depending on the behavior of the population, especially in large cities.