Colombia reaches 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 as cases surge
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia reached 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 this week, becoming just the tenth country in the world to hit the grim milestone.
The South American nation of 50 million has been registering a growing number of daily cases since April and over the past seven days, it had the world's third-highest per capita death rate from COVID-19, according to data published by Oxford University.
On Monday night, President Iván Duque blamed anti-government protests that began at the end of April for many of the fatalities, saying that “more than 10,000 deaths could have been avoided” if Colombians had not held large gatherings over the past seven weeks.
But epidemiologists in Colombia said it's too soon to tell how much of an impact the protests had on the current surge in COVID-19 deaths.
“The protests definitely played a role” in coronavirus contagion, said Diego Rosselli, a professor of epidemiology at the Javeriana University in Bogota.
“But at this moment putting any number on how many deaths they caused is mere speculation.”
More than 25,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Colombia since May 1, or about a quarter of those who have died from the disease since the first case of coronavirus was registered in Colombia in March of last year.
Rosselli said more contagious variants of the virus may have contributed to the sharp acceleration in death rates, as has happened in nearby countries like Argentina and Brazil.
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