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Adaptation And Sustainability Strategies Against COVID-19 Medellin, Colombia

Author: Carlos Bohorquez, City of Medellin, Colombia


On March 16th 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 has appeared in the city. Its effects and expectations have been paralyzing most of the economic, social, educational, and cultural activities throughout the city and forced to change the planning and prospective actions the city had been formulating. This new challenge has obliged to restructure “Medellín Futuro 2020-2023 Development Plan” changing each of its strategic programs and to create specialized groups to react to the pandemic.

The maximum pandemic peak of the curve first phase is expected by the end of July 2020, with nearly 2000 cases in the city. On June 22 after almost one hundred days, 18451 samples were taken in the country. There were about 639 cases, 11 people dead, and 909 recuperated. Medellin city has 2.45 million inhabitants, located in a Metropolitan Area with 3.5 million people. In Colombia, at this same time, the cases of contagion are 71183, with 2310 deaths occurred, and 28968 recuperated cases; for a population of 48 million people and an epidemiological follow-up of 5,000 samples daily, increased to 12,000 samples a day, for the month of June. The country epidemiological prospection for the end of the year consider to arrive to 30 million of cases with at less 40.000 deaths

Using Artificial Intelligence tools, BigData, Expert systems, Internet for people, Geographical Information Systems, APPS and other technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the city has designed a series of smart maps to control CORONAVIRUS pandemic. On those maps have been registered a high percentage of the inhabitants with their housing data, number of people per dwelling, family composition, age ranges, general health situations, links to health systems, particular cases of disability, chronic diseases, economic conditions, degree of education, etc. These maps allow COVID 19 cases to be detected and related to their environment, to avoid the spread of infections. They are useful to Increase and carry out the sampling of cases in critical areas and to promote initiate surveillance actions and epidemiological fences, medical care at home or in the hospitals, supply of small electronic early detection equipment for COVID 19 with an initial distribution of 100,000 free equipments in the city , consisting of a kit with a pulse oximeter, digital thermometer, antibacterial and face masks.

Medellin COVID Data



SAFE CEILING: Every person must be at home or under a public shelter, in confinement or safe protection to avoid being infected. Medellín Homes Care Program.

FOOD SECURITY: Everyone has guaranteed food security and will receive food aid.

INTEGRAL HEALTH PROVITION: The strategy of Medellín Take Care of Me is established, with all health care, through registration in the apps and official databases.

PROTECTION: Security is guaranteed in all areas of the city, to avoid vandalism, looting and other types of criminal actions.


INTELLIGENT AND RESPONSIBLE ECONOMIC REACTIVATION: With the establishment of the required biosafety protocols -disinfection, social distant, mask protection-, for the scheduled opening of the general activities of the city. Scheduled authorization of the exit of people to the street by groups in accordance with the last number of their personal identification and on alternate days and daytime hours. Maximum transport occupancy capacity of 35% of its users.




Due to COVID 19 Pandemic, the initial formulation of the city development plan with its five strategic lines, were adapted in the following way:

  1. Economic Reactivation and Software Valley. Include the following programs: Develop Human talent and Employment. Generation of new jobs and recovery of lost jobs. Generation of environmental and technological employment conditions. Improve Science and Technology skills.  strengthen the Innovation and entrepreneurship. CTI + E. Stablish the strategies to increase Productivity, competitiveness and Internationalization. Improve Circular economy. Declare Technical Information and data like generation tools of public value.  Languages learn promotion, for the Software Valley requirements.

  2. Educational and Cultural Transformation, with its programs: Potentialize the Good Starting Childhood Protection Program. Upgrade Educational Curricular transformation for the City Fourth Industrial Revolution. Improve the Programs: Education for all, Teacher leaders of the future, New Educational Infrastructures and learning environments, Researches to create and appropriate formative knowledge. Culture, Art and Memory and Citizen Civic Culture and Behavior

  3. Medellín Take Care of Me: This basic strategy against COVID 19 pandemic, will develop the programs: Healthy communities, sane xxx bodies and minds. Youth and Women like proprietary people groups to be protected and the clever initiative Let's recover the social tissues.

  4. Eco - City: Include the programs Sustainable and intelligent mobility. Sustainable Public Services, alternative energies use, solid wastes reuse and recycling. Conservation and protection of all forms of life. Ecological urbanism and Sustainable rural development.

  5. Governance and Governance: Strategic created to improve the Citizen Participation and engagement. To guaranteed a Transparent Government. To carry on with the programs: Peace, victims and justice. Security Guarantee. Planning, articulation and territorial strengthening and Effective communications


All 29 programs of the Strategic Lines and programs, included 83 initiatives between projects, actions or interventions in the city related to COVID 19




  • ADAPTATION HOSPITAL SALUDCOOP LA 80, with a capacity 25 Intensive care unit’s ICU, 300 hospital beds. Total for the city 576 ICU to be increased to 1000 in the next 3 months. Definition of exclusive ambulances and emergencies vehicular access routes, provision with water and energy saving equipments.
  • Adaptations of provisional emergency hospitals in sports centers and recreational areas.
  • Establishment of the COVID 19 RISK MANAGEMENT EMERGENCY PLAN:  Operated by the Administrative Department of Risk Management DAGRD, in order to avoid overloading the health and hospital systems and guarantee of water, sewerage, energy, natural gas, telecommunications supplies. Prevention of the technological risk cases and toxicology events.
  • Development of local medical technologies. Research in health and epidemiology, conception and construction of local artificial respirators. Enabling a greater number of COVID 19 detection laboratories.
  • Establishment of epidemiological fences to sectors with potential and real incidence of COVID 19.
  • Exclusive management of Hospital and residential wastes from COVID 19
  • Washing and sanitizing of public places and of massive attendance of people


Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero Calle, is invited to participate in the Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force world strategy. With eleven more mayors from Freetown, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, New Orleans, Rotterdam, Seattle, Seoul and Medellín) to contribute with experience and knowledge for addressing this pandemic to promote an economic recovery that improves the public health, reduce inequality and tackle the climate crisis.



  • COVID 19 is a markedly urban phenomenon, which has little effect on the rural areas of the city. It is more recurrent and shocking with vulnerabilities and precarious housing and habitat conditions, under urban development and cultural aspects, education and behavior of people. Precarious settlements are more highly affected
  • It is still difficult, in the absence of precise knowledge about the behavior and evolution of CORONAVIRUS, to associate it with causality and impacts in relation to climate change. There is a correlation in that climate change and greenhouse gases influence worsening of the negative impacts of COVID 19, due to the respiratory diseases caused and other aggravating effects on the health conditions of hypertensive, diabetic, etc.  This picture is recurring in the city.
  • Increased conditions of poverty and the Informal Economy in the city, given the recess in the economy. In its Phase 2, of smart economic recovery, the fear is that more greenhouse gases will be generated than usual, given the need to recover the economic losses caused by the pandemic and which may lead to industrial overproduction and exaggeration in activities. commercial, services and social. It is also feared for the occurrence of sprouts
  • Sensitive propagation sites have been market squares, residential sectors where people do not abide by protection and isolation measures, public transport systems and, in general, places of high confluence of people. Currently, more than 95% of people infected with COVID 19 are managed at the residential level, in their own homes.
Medellin Metro COVID


  • From now on, it is necessary to implement the Promotion of actions and commitments educational campaigns, with social and health brigades, from all sectors of the city to prevent infections, re-infections and outbreaks.
  • Constant monitoring of all the implications and consequences of COVID 19 is necessary, even though its critical phase has passed. The COVID 19, becomes a permanent, seasonal event, with which you must know how to live for the next few years. For this purpose, the status, monitoring and execution indicator systems are being established, in relation to the implications and effects of CORONAVIRUS.
  • The epidemiological and health services are declared on permanent alert regarding their capacity for reaction and attention, in the event of any new event derived from the coronavirus appears. City must continue to strengthen health and information systems and work on research related to its prevention, treatment, and the possibilities to develop a vaccine adapted to the local conditions of the COVID 19 typology that has mutated in our setting
  • To Assume High Communication and Planning Technology tools like the basically support to carry on facing COVID 19.
  • The representative value of samples taken, must be increased from 1.2% of the total of population to 3.4%, to be representative of the real pandemic epidemiological conditions and to let planning accurate strategies and actions in the future.

Sources: Medellin City Hall, Medellin Health Secretariat, and Colombian National Health Institute