Cuenca approaching infection peak, adds ICU beds; Local patients transferred to other cities; Air travel increasing slowly; Cajas park reopens

Jul 17, 2020 | 6 comments

Jueves, 16/7/2020

Hola, Todos –

Actividades –
De la pagina cultural –

Making bricks out of plastic – For 2 years, a group of students and their professor at the Universidad Católica de Cuenca have been working on a project to convert plastic bottles into bricks. First they developed a machine where people can dispose of plastic bottles in return for a ticket which can be exchanged for money or donated. The idea is to train the citizenry to recycle bottles instead of throwing them into the trash where they wind up in the landfill. 500 tons of garbage is collected in Cuenca daily and 3 tons of that is plastic that winds up in the relleno sanitario (landfill). The students want to change the culture. They will work with the recyclers to prepare the plastic to be made into bricks that will be used to built housing for the recyclers who generally don’t live in the most optimal conditions.

CIDAP reopening – CIDAP is reopening after implementing a service protocol. The Fundación de Turismo awarded the institution the “Cuenca Biosegura y Sostenible” badge. The Daniel Rubin de la Borbolla and Olga Fisch galleries on the upper level of the house are open from 8-17:00, lunes a viernes. The two exhibits include the winning objects of the Reconocimiento de Excelencia UNESCO para la Artesanía Región Andina 2014 (UNESCO Recognition of Excellence for Crafts -Andean Region 2014), and the Medalla CIDAP and ARDiS medal winners. A third exhibit of local, national and international crafts will open in a few days.

Otras cosas –

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The health ministry predicts the number of new Covid-19 cases will peak in late July or early August in Cuenca. (El Mercurio)

Titular – Cerca el pico de contagios (Near the peak of infections) – Julio Molina, the Zone 6 Health Coordinator pointed out that between the end of julio and the beginning of agosto, Cuenca will have a spike in infections and is preparing for any possible scenario. <I wonder how high up on the list a return to red is.> In the past week, all ICU beds were full, necessitating sending patients to private clinics and to Azogues where 20 of the 30 available beds for critical coronavirus patients were occupied at the Hospital “Homero Castanier Crespo.” The coordinator said that a cargo truck was sent to Quito ayer to bring new ventilators to Azuay in order to increase the number of ICU beds.
The Vicente Corral Moscoso hospital has 200 beds of which 70 are for coronavirus patients needing intermediate care. Of these, 10 are available and will be converted to ICU beds. Currently there are 23 ICU beds, 20 of which have ventilators. The other 3 have ventiladores descartables (disposable – your word for the day) <If you want to buy “paper” plates, ask for platos descartables and not platos de papel – from personal experience at the SuperMaxi.> Once the hospital gets to 30 ICU beds, it will reach its maximum for this type of service.

Another possibility is to refer Covid patients to the hospital in El Troncal which increased its capacity during their outbreak in abril y mayo. Intermediate care patients can be be referred to hospitals in Girón y Paute where, if needed, ICU beds can be enabled. Sending patients to El Oro y Guayaquil is also being analyzed.

The 20 ICU beds at the IESS hospital are full, and insured patients are being transferred to private clinics which still have the capacity to treat Covid patients. In the worst case, 200 ICU beds can be created in Cuenca, but this will need money, installation of equipment, contracting with personnel, and other items which are not currently budgeted for.

Movie theaters to reopen – Theaters started getting ready el 6/7 and when they reopen it will be with 2 meter distancing, taking temperatures, disinfecting the spaces, controlling the capacity and extreme biosecurity measures in food management. The hotel Oro Verde is also will sponsor the first drive in theater in Cuenca. The premier will be viernes a las 10:00 according to the sales manager of the hotel. <I don’t know how you’re going to see the screen at 10:00 unless it’s 10 pm, but it will be interesting to see if this takes off, and if there’s a spike in births in abril.>

Commercial flights – In the month since commercial flights from the Mariscal La mar Airport in Cuenca, the resumption of flights has been going slowly. During the first 2 weeks, there were a maximum of 70 passengers per day, and in the second 2 weeks, the number increased to 90 and 100 with only Latam Airlines providing service. The other two airlines that served Cuenca were TAME which is in liquidation and Aeroregional which will resume flights July 20. Aeroregional still owes CORPAC (Corporación Aeroportuaria de Cuenca) $70,000 for rent and taxes.

Due to lack of demand, Latam suspended some flights from its proposed schedule of flights on lunes, miércoles y viernes. Aeroregional announced it would resume flights los martes, jueves, viernes y domingos between Cuenca and Quito starting el 20/7.

Cajas open to visitors – The Parque Nacional Cajas (PNC) reopened today. It will be open martes a domingo from 8-16:30. Visitors will need to wear masks, use antiseptic gel and get their temperatures taken. <I can hear you already – why require masks where distancing is measured in kilometers, plus you can’t breath in a mask and especially at that altitude, yada, yada, yada.>

MSP alerted to irregular use of disabled cards – El Servicio Nacional de Aduana del Ecuador (Senae – The National Customs Service of Ecuador) sent alerts starting in enero of last year to the MSP (Ministerio de Salud) about the irregular approvals of disability cards when Senae detected almost a tripling of the requests from disabled people to import vehicles in 2019. There were 1,476 cars imported in 2018 and 4,022 in 2019 which represented $19 million in lost taxes in 2018 and $47 million in 2019. The first half of 2020 saw the same number of imports as the whole of 2019. In 2016, Conadis (Consejo Nacional de Igualdad de Discapacidades) also informed the MSP about mafias which were issuing the cards in Guayaquil. The doctor who issued over 800 of these documents remains unsanctioned since the MSP did not turn over the evidence against him. <Now the second part of the story comes out – who issued these cards now that we know who used them.> These imports were also made with other types of tax evasion. In marzo del 2019, Senae (customs) opened an investigation with the US government into companies operating in Miami and related to people in Ecuador which undervalued cars, and gave facturas for prices below 60 basic salaries.

Trained dogs up for adoption – The Centro Regional de Adiestramiento Canino (CRAC – Regional Canine Training Center) of the National Police is retiring 44 trained dogs and putting them up for adoption. The dogs have reached retirement through years of service, age, or possible illness. Of those dogs, 35 are being kept by their current handlers and 9 will be put up for adoption by the public starting el 17/7. The dogs range in age from 8-10 and were trained in drug detection <I wonder if they could be easily retrained in Covid detection?>, crowd control, search, and public relations. One of the dogs is Arón, an Ecuadorian St. Bernard) <Which means that the little barrel around his neck is filled with Zhumir instead of whatever Swiss St. Bernards bring you when you’re lost in the snow.> and he was a winner in a 2018 TV show. The other dogs are Lex, Kalef, Fado, Heros, Rexo, Roky, Roky 1 and Dany. <Perfect for any of you who want a dog but are afraid of outliving it. Plus they’re already trained so no need to puppy proof the house.>

And that´s all for today so Hasta ? –

Jeanne

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