Even Duque’s government believes that all people in Colombia should be vaccinated for collective protection. “The basic principle of the Colombian vaccination plan is not the right of the individual, but the public interest,” Ruiz said in an interview with AFP.
“Colombia has not yet implemented any restrictive measures. But we have not ruled them out, because we believe that if someone is not vaccinated and goes to a public event in an enclosed space, for example, it affects the right of other people to protect themselves from disease.”
Ruiz was in favor of requiring in the future to provide a certificate of vaccination for access to restaurants, shopping malls, hospitals and public transportation.
The minister, a 62-year-old surgeon with a master’s degree in economics and a doctorate in public health, stressed the need to use a mask to contain the spread of the coronavirus, both in indoor and outdoor public spaces.
“The message we are sending to the people of Colombia is: ‘We cannot take off the mask until we are fully vaccinated,'” he said.
More than 11.6 million people have completed Colombia’s coronavirus vaccination plan, which represents 30% of the goal of immunizing 35 million of its entire population by December.
The country, which is implementing vaccines from Pfizer, Sinovac, J&J, AstraZenca and Moderna, is considering giving a booster dose to those who have received Chinese Sinovac.
– Worried about Delta –
Ruiz did not dismiss his concern about the discovery of the delta variant in Colombia last weekend, which was initially identified in India as highly contagious.
“There is no community broadcasting from Delta yet, but it is clearly very difficult to contain,” he said. “In Colombia, we have a dominant variant, which is B1.621. We’re seeing how Delta is doing about it.”
Strain B1,621, discovered in January in Colombia and highly transmissible, is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be an important strain with as yet uncertain impact, in contrast to Delta, which has been classified as a major concern. Effect.
Delta’s emergence comes at a time when infections are declining in Colombia after a “sudden growth”, which Ruiz attributed in large part to the massive social mobilization that has erupted in the country since the end of April.
“We have reached the maximum of 700 daily deaths notified and at the moment we are at about 300. We still have a way to go, but we are falling a lot and the health services are much freer,” the minister said.
With 50 million inhabitants, Colombia has accumulated more than 119,000 deaths and 4.7 million cases of the virus since the beginning of the epidemic, and it is the fourth country in the Americas with the highest number of deaths, after Brazil, Mexico and the United States.
In Washington, where he thanked the Joe Biden administration for donating six million vaccines, Ruiz met his American counterpart, Xavier Becerra, with whom, among other issues, he discussed the challenges posed by the Venezuelan immigration crisis.
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