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Cuenca stays yellow but barely; 60 air travelers quarantined; Pichincha sues Moreno for back pay; Tram concerns; Vice-prefect dies of Covid

Cuenca will continue under yellow light restrictions for another week but the cantonal Emergency Operations Committee (COE) warned that the city is “at the limit” and could return to red.

The municipal council decided that transport agents will step up social distancing enforcement on the tram.

“We are witnessing widespread disrespect for the rules and believe this is responsible for the increase of coronavirus cases,” says Julio Molina, Ministry of Health Zone 6 director. “A tour of neighborhoods indicates that far too many people are engaged in social and sports activities that threaten the health of the community. Every gathering, every celebration means more cases. On Thursday and Friday we were seeing the cases from Father’s Day parties.”

Molina said that intensive care beds are near capacity at Cuenca’s two public hospitals despite the addition of eight more ventilators. “This helps but if the number of critically ill patients grows we will pass the limit.”

Cuenca Police Chief Jorge Cabrera said his officers are increasing nighttime patrols in an effort to control parties, football and volleyball games and other large gatherings. “We are issuing more fines and warnings but in the end it is up to the residents to obey the rules.”

At Friday’s COE meeting, Molina said there was, in fact, some good news. Almost 1,100 Cuenca patients have recovered from the virus and now test negative. “That’s about 80 percent of those who originally tested positive in the canton.”

60 national and international air passengers quarantined in Guayaquil
According the Guayaquil Emergency Operations Committee, 60 national and international air passengers are quarantined at the city’s convention center due to testing positive for the Covid virus on arrival at the airport. Other travelers testing positive are staying in designated hotels near the airport. Officials say they are especially concerned about international arrivals from the U.S., Chile and Peru, countries with rising infection rates.

Transportation office tightens tram security
Enforcement of social distancing rules on the tram are being tightened, tram and city transportation officials say. “A disadvantage of the popularity of the tramway is that, at certain times of the day, more people want to ride than we can safely accommodate during the health crisis,” says civilian transit agent Liliana Orellana. “We are adding personnel to help maintain the rules, in particular to make sure passengers observe proper distancing and wear face masks,” she said. “In some cases we may ask passengers to wait on the platform for the next train.”

Pichincha prefect sues Moreno for money owed
Pichincha Prefect Paola Pabón is suing the government and President Lenín Moreno for failure to provide funding for essential services. According to Pabón, the government owes Pichincha $45.5 million. “We have not received any funding for four months and are approaching the point where we will have discontinue important services, such as our emergency health response,” she says. “The lack of funding is also jeopardizing the employment of our staff.” The government does not dispute the fact it is behind in funding the province and says it hopes to make a payment next week.

Chimborazo vice prefect dies of Covid
Chimborazo Vice Prefect María Delia Caguana died Friday of symptoms of the Covid-19 virus. A spokeswoman for the Riobamba Social Security hospital says Caguana was admitted Thursday with extreme respiratory distress and was immediately intubated and treated for other symptoms. “As her condition worsened, we transferred her to the IESS facility in Ambato where she died.”