Cuenca health officials dispel rumors, warn against panic; Two local women test negative

Mar 2, 2020 | 4 comments

It’s not true that a local hospital is treating three critically ill Covid-19 coronavirus patients. Neither is it true that large doses of vitamin C will protect you from the virus.

David Ordóñez, Cuenca district director of the Ministry of Health

Staff members of the Cuenca office of the national health ministry were busy answering questions and debunking rumors on morning radio and television talk shows Monday. “It’s amazing the bad information you get on social media,” said David Ordóñez, Ministry of Health district director. “In stressful periods like this, it is critical that residents get reliable information from reliable sources. The internet is a wonderful tool but it can cause great harm in the hands of misinformed people.”

Responding to questions from a radio announcer, Ordóñez said that there are no “hidden” Covid-19 patients at a Cuenca hospital. He also warned residents against social media advertisements for preventions and cures for the virus. “Most of these are fraudulent and we have asked police to look into a number of them,” he said. In particular, he pointed out several promotions for “miracle” vitamin C treatments claimed to prevent infection.

Monday afternoon, Ordóñez announced that a 27-year-old female passenger on a February 14 flight from Madrid to Guayaquil had tested negative for the coronavirus. The woman sat three rows from a 71-year-old woman who is in critical condition with the virus in a Guayaquil hospital. The woman, Ecuador’s first confirmed case of Covid-19, apparently passed the infection on to five family members who are currently receiving care in their homes in Guayaquil and Babahoyo.

Later, the ministry reported that a second woman who was also on the February 14 Madrid to Guayaquil flight was also cleared of the virus. According to her doctor, the woman was not sitting near the infected passenger and shows no symptoms of the illness.

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In his morning radio comments, Ordónez said that a high school student from Azogues who recently returned from Italy has also been cleared of the virus.

In a television interview, epidemiologist Alfredo Bruno of the National Institute of Public Health Research stressed the importance for the public to remain calm. “The worst thing people can do in this situation is to panic,” he said. “This makes things more difficult for everyone, especially health workers.”

He added that the public must remain alert and follow the recommendations of organizations such as the World Health Organization. “Following a few simple precautions greatly reduces a person’s chances of infection,” he said.

Asked for his number one recommendation for avoiding the virus, he said: “Wash your hands again and again. It’s 10 times more effective than masks.”

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