Colombia to extend coronavirus restrictions by two weeks

BOGOTA, April 19 (Reuters) - Colombia will extend measures such as nightly curfews and limits on who can enter shops and other businesses by two weeks as part of efforts to curb a third wave of coronavirus, the government said on Monday.

Nightly curfews based on intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rates will run until May 3, according to a government document signed by Health Minister Fernando Ruiz and Interior Minister Daniel Palacios.

Cities with an ICU occupancy of above 85% will have a curfew from 6 p.m. through 5 a.m., while those with between 80% and 85% capacity will have curfews beginning at 8 p.m.

In capital city Bogota, total ICU occupancy sits at 84.2%, according to local authorities. ICU occupancy rates in Colombia’s second and third cities, Medellin and Cali, sit at 98% and 91.4%, respectively.

The capital will also maintain a three-day quarantine planned for this weekend, Mayor of Bogota Claudia Lopez said in a press conference.

“We are literally between life and death, between the possibility of the health system collapsing and ICU occupancy reaching its limit,” Lopez said.

Across the country, people will also be restricted as to when they can enter shops, banks and other businesses based on the number on their national identity card, with access given on alternate days.

Colombia has reported more than 2.66 million coronavirus cases, as well as 68,748 deaths, according to the health ministry. So far, more than 3.7 million vaccine doses have been administered. (Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Sam Holmes)