Innovative measures against coronavirus make a worldwide benchmark of Bogota

Claudia López in the launching of the Corferias hospital center. Claudia López in the launching of the Corferias hospital center.
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Since the first measures to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic were taken on March 20th up to date, Bogota’s government has taken part in 25 virtual meetings to share with the world its experience with the coronavirus and learn from the measures implemented by other cities. The District’s Directorate of International Relations (DDIR).

The participation of the administration in the gatherings organized by diverse city networks and international organizations such as UCLG, C40, CIDEU, Metropolis –AL-LAS, the Partnership for Healthy Cities by Bloomberg Philantropists, UNESCO, the Central American Integration System and CEPAL.

Mayor Claudia Lopez has participated herself in dialogues with her peers from different cities of the world. The first took place on April 7th with the Mayors of Barcelona, Medellin and Montevideo and the second one on April 25th with the Mayors of Buenos Aires, Madrid, Lima, Montevideo and Santiago de Chile.

This week, Bogota highlights four important policy innovations announced over the past days:

  1. Open data for COVID 19 measurement model

Pantallazo de la página web de Covid-19

Bogota is the first city in Colombia, and one of the first capital cities in the world, in making the data and measurement model of the pandemic curve public. "If we are going to make decisions that involve the life or death of the bogotanos, these decisions will be made among all based on the access to the same information," said Mayor Claudia Lopez.

The Secretary of Health of Bogota, with the support of epidemiological experts, developed a model that measures the Covid-19 curve and the impact of the virus on the citizens' lives. The information that can be accessed in real time is: the number of cases of contagion, hospital capacity (ICU available beds), the type of care each sick person is receiving, their level of severity or improvement and the number of deaths and recoveries. Information in other key sectors is also offered: daily percentage of occupation of the transport system. Lastly, citizens can consult projections modeled on hypothetical scenarios of the pandemic. 

  1. Measures to strengthen the public health system 

Claudia López y el Secretario de Salud de Bogotá en Corferias.

The main purpose of the district administration, since the isolation simulation was carried out from March 20th to 24th in Bogotá and the quarantine decreed by the National Government was extended until May 11th, has been to gain time to strengthen the response capacity of the healthcare system. The main interventions adopted are the following:

Transitional hospital center in Corferias. The city's main convention and exhibition center was adapted as a transitional hospital to attend patients of low complexity. This seeks to decongest clinics and hospitals in the city, so the system infrastructure is concentrated in the care of critically ill Covid-19 patients. On the 20th of April 650 beds started operating, the expansion process of the convention center will advance by demand, depending on the evolution of the virus's contagion, with up to 5.000 beds maximum capacity.

Acquisition of 200,000 diagnostic tests.  The city strengthened its ability to implement diagnostic tests and is expected to go from 1400 to 3000 tests per day. The local government is committed to improving data quality and enhance the precision of the analysis, to make informed policy decisions. 

  1. Mobility and transport measures

Coronavirus bike paths routes

Bogota is working on keeping the virus from spreading on public transportation. Following the pandemic measurement model, and foreseeing a soon reactivation of some economic branches, the city administration established that Transmilenio, the mass transportation system, will operate at only 35% of its capacity. The measure aims at avoiding agglomerations and thus halting contagion of COVID-19.

While restricting public transportation, from Monday April 27th, there will be a further push for the use of bikes and car-pooling. This announcement joins previous measures such as the implementation of temporary bike lanes (ciclorrutas), made prior to the declaration of the quarantine at the national level. In the next months the construction of 105km of new bike lanes will add to the 500 km that already exist in the city. The objective is to double the bike-ride share as a sustainable means of transportation, passing from 7% to 15% by the end of this administration.

  1. Donaton

Claudia López en la donatón

The Mayor of Bogota, Claudia Lopez, invited citizens, businesses, and international organizations to come together in a Donaton, an event to raise funds to address COVID-19 on Sunday 19th April. Donations will go to support the most vulnerable citizens with food and cash transfers during the “Quarantine for Life” and strengthen the the city’s health system.

During 12 hours of uninterrupted donations, more than 45.000 citizens, and over 150 businesses, business associations, international organizations, and artists came together to support this initiative, raising more than $ 51,696 million Colombian pesos (USD 13 million) in money and in kind. This is an unprecedented act of generosity and collective action in the history of Bogota and Colombia.

The donations will be used to strengthen the city's health system and help vulnerable families with markets and money transfers, so that they can survive during what has been called “Quarantine for Life”.

The result of this day of donations represents an expression of solidarity, a mechanism for citizen participation in the response of the pandemic and a vote of confidence from the citizens towards the city administration. “From this challenge that life has brought us, not the richest or the strongest will come out, but the most supportive and disciplined. ¡And Bogota is an example and a pride on both!” the Mayor stated praising the qualities that bogotanos have shown since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.