13 Colombian presidential palace staffers test COVID-19 positive

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BOGOTA: Thirteen people who work at the Colobian presidential palace or Casa de Narino have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, government officials said. Five of the infected people belong to the Administrative Department of the Presidency, while the other eight are security guards at Casa de Narino, Efe news quoted the officials as saying on Friday.

The 13 individuals were currently self-isolating in their homes. “On Wednesday, tests were conducted on the president of the Republic, his advisers, support team, as well as the people who make up the president’s primary security team, all with negative results,” the government said in a statement.

Doctors are monitoring the condition of the 13 infected employees and the pandemic health-safety protocols remain in effect, limiting to 20 per cent the proportion of the staff present in the palace on any given day.

The government disclosed last week that a Casa de Narino security guard and 13 soldiers from the Presidential Guard Battalion tested positive for coronavirus. On that occasion, neither President Ivan Duque nor anyone in his inner circle were tested because none of them had been exposed to the infected people, though samples were taken from several presidential bodyguards.

The pace of COVID-19 contagion in Colombia has accelerated and a record 1,262 new cases were confirmed Thursday, bringing the total to 25,366. Colombia’s death toll from the illness stands at 822.

With the number of new infections topping 1,000 for three days running, the Colombian government announced on Thursday night that the restrictions on movement and activity imposed on March 25 would continue until July 1.

The national lockdown, which came weeks after Colombia’s mayors and provincial governors began taking action to contain the pandemic, was originally scheduled to end on May 31.