HAVANA TIMES – Colombia’s Interior Ministry has been closed after deputy minister Daniel Palacios tested positive for Covid-19, reported dpa news on Thursday.
Palacios said on Twitter that he was in isolation after apparently contracting the virus during a trip to Barranquilla in the northern coastal Atlantico department, which has recorded a high number of coronavirus cases.
He had reportedly participated in a meeting there without wearing a face mask.
Palacios subsequently met ministers and a police chief in Bogota, sparking concern that he could be spreading the virus.
Interior Ministry officials will now work from home, broadcaster Caracol reported.
Colombia had hitherto been less affected by the disease than its neighbours, but Covid-19 infections have increased rapidly in the past few days.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed 77,113 infections and 2,491 deaths.
President Ivan Duque’s government has extended a nationwide quarantine until mid-July. But it has simultaneously continued reactivating the economy and has even allowed restaurants and churches to reopen in some places.
Millions of Colombians rushed out to shop on a VAT-free day meant to kick-start consumption last Friday. Some of them have already tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Caracol.
Colombians have also continued partying despite the pandemic, with police dispersing more than 2,000 parties and meetings last weekend and on Monday, which was a public holiday.
The Americas region is the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, with infections soaring especially in the United States and Brazil.