Covid-19 cases are highest since January; Ecuador, U.S. to share citizen tax info; Conaie demands Lasso investigation; Argentina suffers inflation ‘crisis’
The number of Covid-19 cases reported Thursday was the highest since January, according to the Ministry of Health. Of the 2,415 cases confirmed, 930 were in Pichincha Province while another 387 were in Guayas.
“As new subvariants of Omicron are introduced into the population, the number of infections and positive test results continue to rise,” the Ministry said in a statement. “The BA.4 and BA.5 strains are becoming dominant here as they are in the rest of the world.”
Despite an increase in cases, the Ministry said there has been no increase in hospitalizations and deaths due to Covid. “The number of severe cases and mortality remain low and has not increased since most cases are mild or asymptomatic.” The Ministry credited the country’s 92 percent vaccination rate for the low hospitalization rate.
The regional Health Ministry office reported 37 new Covid cases Thursday in Azuay Province, 22 of them in Cuenca.
Ecuador and U.S. will share tax information
The National Assembly unanimously ratified an agreement between the United States and Ecuador to exchange tax information. Previously, tax records for individual citizens could only be shared following a lengthy diplomatic process.
“Both countries are concerned about fraud, corruption and tax avoidance and this agreement addresses those issues,” said Assemblyman Luis Cervantes, who spearheaded ratification of the agreement. “In the past, citizens engaged in suspicious financial activities were able to avoid detection due to lack of record sharing between Ecuador and the U.S. and this agreement will put light on those activities.”
“This agreement is governed by the principles of transparency, efficiency, effectiveness and international cooperation.” Cervantes said. “It will strengthen the tax compliance system of both countries and provide greater ability to locate potential criminal activity.”
Conaie demands investigation of Lasso in Iza arrest
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities is demanding that the Attorney General investigate President Guillermo Lasso and two government ministers for subjecting Conaie President Leonidas Iza to “illegal incarceration” during the June anti-government strike.
Iza was arrested and held overnight June 14 on charges of blocing a public roadway in Cotopaxi Province. “Mr. Iza was detained and deprived of personal liberty while he was participating in his constitutional right to protest,” Conaie said. “We hold the president and government ministers Patricio Carrillo and Luis Lara personally responsible for this action and insist they be punished.”
Iza is scheduled to appear in a Cotopaxi court next week on the road blockage charge.
Argentina in crisis as inflation rages
Argentina’s Finance Ministry said Thursday that the country’s economy has entered a “crisis situation” due to rising inflation. The Ministry reported that prices for consumer goods have increased 64 percent in the past 12 months, almost double official projections. Through the first half of 2022, inflation registered a 36 percent increase, a rate expected to continue to the end of the year.
The Ministry acknowledged that the government will not meet the goal set by the International Monetary fund of maintaining inflation between 38 percent and 48 percent, potentially jeopardizing loan agreements reached in January.
The Ministry said that regional and international economic conditions “beyond the government’s control” are responsible the high inflation. “Most of the region is experiencing double-digit inflation and we, like other countries, are doing what we can to control it,” the Ministry said.
The World Bank reported Tuesday that only one country, Ecuador, is reporting inflation of less than five percent, and most report rates of eight percent or higher.