By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - In some neighborhoods in Bogota and on the outskirts of the capital, families are putting red rags on the doors and windows of their houses to ask for help from neighbors and authorities or anyone who can provide a proper meal.
With approximately 50% of the economically active population working in informal sectors, and therefore with little margin for economic protection in crises such as that of COVID-19, the quarantine implemented by the government leaves millions of people facing the terrible choice between assuming risking infection and hunger or homelessness.
Despite the measures put in place prohibiting, among other things, movement, the opening of businesses and travel, it has been remarkable to see how thousands of Bogota residents have ignored the order and have gone on their daily work, going back and forth throughout the city despite being aware of the limitations.
But for many who do not receive government subsidies or any kind of assistance, this is the only way to find a few pesos to eat during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Juan Carlos Saldarriaga, the mayor of Soacha, a municipality near Bogota, this measure "has aroused a feeling of solidarity among neighbors."
Saldarriaga said the red rags also help local governments know who are those “who need help the most."
Although many people from Soacha have received food packages distributed by the government and the Red Cross, many desperately ask for help with their red piece of cloth.
Colombia has 1,485 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths. The mandatory isolation will initially go until April 13, as decreed by President Ivan Duque.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 1.3 million while the death toll is over 73,700, and more than 275,800 have recovered so far, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.