Colombia hits grim milestone of 1,000,000 coronavirus cases

Colombia has surpassed 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, becoming the second Latin American country to hit the grim milestone in a week.

The nation of 50 million saw its peak in August and although infection rates have dropped since then, it is still reporting around 8,000 new infections daily and has recorded 30,000 deaths in total.

It comes after Argentina also reached 1 million confirmed cases on Monday, while Peru and Mexico are also expected to follow in the coming weeks as they currently have more than 900,000 cases respectively.

Brazil surpassed the marker in June and has the third highest ranking in the world, following India and the US, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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Overall, Latin America is continuing to register some of the highest caseloads globally, diagnosing more than 100,000 confirmed infections each day. It is home to half of the 10 countries with the highest total cases around the world.

Latin America has been hard-hit by the virus as a result of weak public health systems, poverty, while critics say poor Government decisions early in the pandemic has led to flawed or limited testing and little contact tracing.

However, the World Health Organisation reports that Europe is now seeing even larger numbers as several countries are going through their second wave.

Spain became the first country in Europe to hit the 1 million mark earlier this week, followed by France, causing the Government to plan a new state of alarm expected to last for several weeks.

Experts say Latin America, unlike other areas, is experiencing a table-top like effect in which cases remain relatively high instead of dramatically dropping and rising.

In a number of countries, the virus has started spreading to areas that had previously registered relatively few cases.

Dr Luis Jorge Hernandez, a public health professor at Colombia’s University of the Andes, said: ‘The behaviour of the virus is different. It’s not big resurgences but new outbreaks.’

In Colombia, a six-month lockdown helped slow contagion and gave officials time to secure more intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients.

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.

However, epidemiologists expect to see another marked increase by the end of the year in the country.

It comes as Colombia saw thousands take to the streets of the capital Bogotá in protest over a wave of violence sweeping across the country, with indigenous communities facing the worst of it.

Four years after the country signed a peace deal to end the longest-running war in the Americas, Colombia has seen a dramatic increase in mass killings this year. Reports saying they are taking place every other day on average.

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