By: Marvin Mendoza – Coordinator of Cali Cómo Vamos Program
The spread of COVID-19 pandemic has forced every country to adopt containment and mitigation measures, ensuring that they have fewer infections and citizens have access to a healthcare system that can cope with the upsurge in patients. Colombia, particularly Cali, is no exception, and the city has implemented a quarantine as a strategy to delay the spread of the virus.
According to the 2018 Census, in 2020, there will be 316,880 children under 10 years old and 366,618 adults over 60 years old living in Cali (the highest risk age groups to contract Covid-19), which means that the city will possibly have 680,000 individuals would be at a higher risk of getting sick.
On the other hand, regardless of age, those who suffer from malnutrition or who depend on the economic resources obtained daily through informal enterprises, become potentially more vulnerable to the virus since they need to be outdoors in public spaces in order to work.
The city has approximately 4,800 homeless people who are potentially exposed every day to the spread of COVID-19 and who could contribute to a faster spread of the virus in the city.
In addition, preliminary data from the Ministry of Health indicates that in 2019, chronic malnutrition in children under 5 years old in Cali stood at 7%, which adds up to 11,000 cases. In 2018 there were 541 cases of children under 5 years old with acute malnutrition registered in Cali. This population also has a higher degree of vulnerability of being infected by COVID-19.
Economic instability is also a tremendous challenge. According to the latest Colombian household survey the number of employed people in Cali was 1,206,976, but 573,077 of them (45.7% of the total) were informal employees and 380,576 considered their jobs to be not permanent. Thus about 570,000 people are potentially more vulnerable to the virus due to the lack of economic resources during the quarantine.
These figures do not indicate the total number of people at risk but rather the available estimates for groups that would have a higher risk based on their socio-economic characteristics. Currently, there is no exact way of knowing how many and which populations of Cali will be infected with the virus.
* On its Twitter account, Cali Cómo Vamos regularly publishes updated information related to the number of COVID-19 cases and the prevention measures taken in Cali. Information can be found at https://twitter.com/calicomovamos
* The Alvaralice Foundation is a founding partner and permanent member of Cali Cómo Vamos, a program that monitors and evaluates the quality of life in the city, producing frequent reports on various topics. The program seeks to independently inform citizens and institutional actors, providing solid data in order to have better information for plans and policies, to improve the quality of public debates, to evaluate changes, and to encourage participation.