Confusion about total Covid-19 infections; Cuenca bus owners complain of low ridership; One Azuay canton goes ‘green’; More violations

Jun 24, 2020 | 14 comments

Although most health professionals agree that the number of reported Covid-19 cases in Ecuador represents only a fraction of total infections, there is strong disagreement about an accurate estimate.

Police make curfew violation arrests Saturday night in Cuenca.

On Saturday, the regional Ministry of Health office in Cuenca said it estimated that about three percent, or 18,000 to 21,000, of Cuenca residents have been infected. On Tuesday, Ecuador Minister of Health Juan Carlos Zevallos estimated that 45 percent of residents in Quito, or 1.2 million, had been infected. “I have said before that Covid will work its way through the population and this is what I see happening,” he said. “We cannot stop the disease, we can only work to protect our health system and vulnerable populations, and that is what is happening.”

Quito infectious disease specialist Ronaldo Sánchez says the disparity of infection estimates for Quito and Cuenca shows an “fundamental” problem in understanding where Ecuador stands with the pandemic. “These are the kind of numbers that confuse the public and can create apathy,” he says. “I’m sure the health minister would disagree with the Cuenca director and say the infection number is much higher than three percent, but the mixed messages going to the public is problematic.”

Sánchez continues: “I don’t know the basis for Zevallos‘ 45 percent in Quito but, if this is true, or even close to being true, it is great news that should dictate new policies for dealing with the virus. It would also indicate that Covid is far less dangerous than we have been told based on the hospital data we see. We badly need better information to justify the numbers.”

Sevilla de Oro goes ‘green’
Sevilla de Oro canton is the first canton in Azuay Province to move to green light health emergency status. Located in the northeast corner of the province, with a population of 7,000, the canton has no reported cases of Covid-19. Eight residents of Sevilla de Oro have tested positive for Covid-19 since March and all have recovered and now are negative.

Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca show most Covid violations
According Ecuador’s emergency response agency, ECU911, Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca lead the country in violations of Covid-19 health restrictions. According to ECU911 statistics, there have been more than 65,000 violations nationwide from mid-March to June 19, regarding curfew and other restrictions. The vast majority of violations involve alcohol. During that period, ECU911 has dispatched police to 15,013 calls in Guayaquil, 11,390 in Quito and 3,917 in Cuenca.

City bus ridership is down sharply
Cuenca Transportation Chamber director Manolo Solis says low ridership could force schedule and route changes to Cuenca’s public bus system. “We are in serious danger financially,” says Solis says. “We will have to make big adjustment unless there are more riders very soon. We did not anticipate the slow recovery in the economy from the virus and many people are still not working and do not need transportation. We are facing a crisis and are meeting with owners this week to find solutions.”

Colombia border to partially reopen
Colombia and Ecuador announced Tuesday that there will be a limited reopening of the border at the Rumichaca bridge crossing. The agreement reached between the countries will allow the passage of individuals who have not been able to return home as well as the passage of more supplies. Both countries said that details are forthcoming.


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