Cuenca project aims at mass testing; More positives at Feria Libre; Sex workers get free meals; Coastal provinces see spike in deaths

Apr 30, 2020 | 29 comments

A privately funded project aims to get Cuenca and Azuay Province back to “normal living and back to work” through mass Covid-19 testing of the population.

A city health worker administer’s a Covid-19 “quick test” to a vendor at the El Arenal market. (El Teimpo)

The Trust Fund for Cuenca’s Proof for Life is raising funds to administer tens-of-thousands of tests to allow the reopening of  city businesses and to allow workers to return safely to work.

“We want to end the current paralysis with a testing program that identifies and isolates those with Covid-19 so the rest of the population can return to most normal activities,” says Jorge Roca, president of the trust. “We recognize that the government and municipality have limited financial resources and believe the private sector can be a partner in this fight.”

Roca says his organization will work with national and local health agencies to administer tests and hopes to begin operations within a matter of days. “So far, Cuenca and Azuay Province have fared well during the pandemic in terms of hospital capacity and controlling the spread of the virus.”

In cooperation with Cuenca business organziations, the trust is collecting donations but also welcomes support from the public. “The donation campaign focuses on business since it is critical that we reactive the productive sector because of the large number of facilities and employees affected by the lockdown,” Roca says.

He added that the first tests would be administered to workers to allow the reopening of businesses but will also be available the general public. Within days, the trust hopes to test 40,000 workers at 130 companies. Private citizens can tested for $14.

Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios welcomes the Proof of Life project and has offered city resources for conducting tests. “Very obviously, we can use all the help we can get right now.”

“Our goal is to make Cuenca the first city in Ecuador to regain normalcy of life and to return to work,” Roca said.

For more information about the project and to contribute, go to trust’s website at

Virus update

More positives at El Arenal vendors
The sellers of the El Arenal market (Feria Libre) continue to undergo Covid-19 “quick tests” in the city’s plan to reopon the market. On Tuesday and Wednesday, 105 tests were adminstered, with 13 of them being positive. On Saturday, 244 vendors were tested with 37 proving positive. In all, the city will test more than 1,000 vendors and will install a program to monitor those ordered to quarantine. 

Sex workers in Quito and Cuenca get free meals

Quito and Cuenca are recognizing sex workers as a “vulnerable group” in need of food and other support. Both cities began distributing meals to the workers, most of whom say they can no longer perform their professional duties, on Monday.

Coastal provinces show largest increase in Covid-19 deaths
Santa Elena, Manabí and El Oro Provinces have registered the largest increase in confirmed Covid-19 deaths in the past week and the Ministry of Health believes that there are many more deaths than those confirmed. In addition to Guayas Province, where as many as 8,000 deaths may be the result of the epidemic, the three other coastal provinces are scenes of new outbreaks.

Wednesday stats
The health ministry said Wednesday that it has confirmed 24,675 cases of the Covid-19 virus in Ecuador since the pandemic began in late February. It says the death count stands at 2,240, 883 confrimed and 1,357 considered probable. There are 432 cases in Azuay Province, with 369 in the city of Cuenca.


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