Cuenca stays yellow despite hospital capacity concerns; Total Covid cases show slow increase; Airlines announce restart dates

Jun 6, 2020 | 21 comments

Despite new concerns about intensive care hospital capacity, Cuenca will remain under yellow light health emergency status for another week. The municipal Emergency Operations Committee (COE) heard from health and business officials Friday night before deciding to maintain the status quo.

City maintenance crews are preparing Cuenca parks for reopening next week. (El Tiempo)

Zone Six Ministry of Health director Julio Molina reported that Covid-19 hospitalizations in Cuenca have increased during the past week but says local hospitals have been able to handle the cases. “We are monitoring the increase closely and taking measures to improve capacity but the health system is not in danger of collapse,” he says.

He also noted that despite increased Covid testing in recent weeks, the total number of cases in Cuenca and Azuay Province have only increased slowly, with recoveries outpacing new cases. As of Friday, a total of 846 cases have been verified in Cuenca with more than half of them recovered.

Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacious reported that 6,500 virus tests were carried out last week, primarily on market workers and others who interact with the public, and 164, or 2.5 percent, tested positive.

The mayor says a growing concern is hunger among Venezuelan and Colombian refugees and some informal Ecuadorian workers. “Many of these people have difficulty finding housing and some, in fact, are living on the streets,” he said. “We are especially concerned about the children.” He said that the city food bank delivered 31,500 meals last week and that other organizations contributed thousands more.”

Virus update

Total cases show modest rise
The total number of confirmed Convid-19 cases in Ecuador increased by 531 on Friday, reaching a total of 42,106 since late February. According to the Ministry of Health, the numbers reflect a “flattened curve” of overall cases with a slight drop in new cases during the past two week. “We also estimate that 800 virus patients recovered in the period of our last count.” The ministry says the area of highest concern remains the Pacific coast provinces.

Latam plans to resume national and international flights on June 15.

The age distribution of those infected has remained steady in recent weeks, the ministry said. Of all cases, 3.5 percent are of those 0 to 19 years old; 56.6 percent are 20 to 49; 23.7 percent are 50 to 64; and 16.2 percent are over 65, the age group with the highest rate of mortality.

Airlines announce restart dates
Although Latam and Avianca airlines, Ecuador’s two largest national carriers, will not resume in-country flights until June 15, Cuenca-based Aeroregional began flying between Loja and Cuenca to Quito this week.

Among international carriers, American, United and Spirit Airlines restarted flights from Quito and Guayaquil on June 4. Among other airlines, JetBlue resumes flights on June 11; Eastern, Avianca, Latam and KLM on June 15; Copa on June 26; Interjet, Iberia and Ultra Plus on July 1; Air Europe on July 15; Delta on August 1; Air Canada on November 27; and Gol on December 1. All airlines say schedules are subject to change.

Indigenous Amazonians will remain in the jungle
The Confederation of Amazon Indigenous Nationality of Ecuador (Confeniae) said Thursday that their communities will remain in isolation in the Amazon jungle at least until June 15. Members of Confeniae live in Pastaza, Napo, Morona Santiago, Sucumbíos and Orellana provinces in eastern Ecuador. “We are increasing our education efforts to protect our people by emphasizing the wearing of face masks, hand-washing and avoiding large gatherings,” said Confeniae communications director Andrés Tapia.

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