Covid-19 cases rise again but gov’t has only given 668 tests; Guayas curfew extended, IESS payments deferred, No LP gas shortage

Mar 18, 2020 | 11 comments

Ecuador’s Ministry of Health reports 37 new cases of the coronavirus but admits the results may be skewed by a lack of testing. According to the Office of of Risk Management, only 668 tests have been administered since testing began four weeks ago. The Wednesday count rose to 157 from Tuesday’s 113.

The government reports that 668 Covid-19 tests have been administered in Ecuador.

Guayas Province, home to Guayaquil, has the country’s highest number of cases at 119, followed by Los Ríos 10, Pichincha and Manabi with eight, Azuay with seven, Bolívar with two and  El Oro, Morona Santiago and Sucumbíos with one each.

Health Minister Catalina Andramuño said that most cases now being reported are the result of community spread rather than from people entering the country from abroad. “We are at the stage where it will be increasingly difficult to determine the source of infections, which makes sheltering at home very important,” she said. “Our emphasis now is mitigating the impact of the outbreak.”

Andramuño added that she believes early intervention will spare Ecuador the death toll being seen in Italy, where it currently tops six percent. Worldwide, she added, the mortality rate of the 81,120 cases reported to the World Health Organization is 3.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Risk Management has announced that the nighttime curfew has been extended in hard-hit Guayas Province and will begin at 4 .m. instead of 9 p.m. “This action is required because of the rapid spread of the virus in Guayas and it will be strictly enforced,” said Alexandra Ocles, risk management director.

Virus updates

Voluntary IESS members payments deferred
The government announced Tuesday that voluntary members of Ecuador’s Social Security (IESS) program can defer monthly payments for 90 days, from April through June. Several thousands foreign residents are voluntary members of IESS, mostly for the system’s health care program. The government said that payments must be up to date through March for the 90-day grace period to apply.

Cuenca garbage service operates normally
Cuenca’s Municipal Cleaning Company (EMAC) reported Wednesday that garbage pickup is operating on normal daily schedules. EMAC manager Dora Ordoñez said collection times may vary slightly due to the need to complete pickup before the 9 p.m. curfew.

Cuenca has plenty of LP gas
The Azuay governor’s office says that the province has a large LP gas surplus and that deliveries are being made without delays. Regional distributor AustroGas reports a 35 percent increase in orders over last week but says new shipments are being received in a timely fashion.


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