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'For the majority of Colombians, staying at home is yet another significant cross to bear'

Brendan Corrigan, from Co Roscommon, is a broadcast journalist based in Bogotá, Colombia since 2011


Brendan Corrigan is from Lisacul, Co Roscommon

Brendan Corrigan is from Lisacul, Co Roscommon

Brendan Corrigan is from Lisacul, Co Roscommon

#QuedateEnCasa, the Spanish for 'stay home'. As it is for practically everywhere else in the world, this message is being drilled into Colombians these days.

On Monday April 13 we moved into phase two of our national lockdown, the original 19 days extended until 26 April, for now anyway.

In the capital and the country's most populous city, Bogotá, this second stage comes with a new approach. Aside from the 'essential worker' exceptions and dog owners taking their pets for a 20-minute walk, only men are allowed out on odd-number dates, women on even-numbers.

Within that, and as has been the case since the lockdown measures were introduced, one is only permitted to leave their house for essential needs.

Officially, there is no provision in the decrees applicable to these restrictions for those who simply want to leave their dwelling for a bit of fresh air, to escape their four walls for a brief period.

For many of Colombia's middle-class folk, this isn't so bad. They can take a stroll in their privately secured gated communities or apartment complexes, a little break from the work a good number can do from home. Sure, the common areas in said places may be off-limits during these times but they can still step outside their front door safe in the knowledge they won't be met by overzealous police officers.

For the majority of Colombians, however, those living from day-to-day in poorly constructed accommodation, lacking proper ventilation or natural light, very often with three to four generations under the same roof, staying at home is yet another significant cross to bear.

Extra government subsidies have been made available but they don't always reach those who need them most.

Nonetheless, if we can trust government figures, coronavirus hasn't inflicted too high a toll on this country of almost 50 million people, thus far at least (as I write there are less than 3,000 confirmed cases and 112 deaths).

One could say it's a sign the lockdown measures are working. Time will tell on that one.

On the other hand, how much damage, both mentally and physically, has already been inflicted on those most vulnerable here?

For Colombia and similar countries, it could turn out that the Covid-19 "cure" ends up having a far more severe impact on their citizens than the virus itself.

These weeks at home may come with a very high price indeed.

We are living history. The challenges posed by Covid 19 are similar the world over but everybody’s experience of this emergency will be different. In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

Please email your submission (400 words max.) to stories@independent.ie along with a photograph. We will publish as many letters as possible on Independent.ie and a selection in print every week.

Online Editors