Ecuador’s Ministry of Health says efforts are almost complete to make Cuenca one of three centers for combating the developing Covid-19 coronavirus in Ecuador. “After Quito and Guayaquil, Cuenca will be the third headquarters for fighting the virus,” says Leopoldo Izquieta, district director of the National Institute of Research in Public Health.
Tests for Covid-19 will be conducted in Cuenca and the city will have specially trained health personnel, equipment and supplies to handle outbreaks in southern Ecuador, Izquieta says. “As the third largest city in the country, with the third largest passenger airport, Cuenca can also expect to see its own infections so we must be prepared.”
Health ministry directors met with representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Monday to review Ecuador’s plans to combat the coronavirus, focusing on operations in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. “The preparedness and professionalism in these centers is crucial to combating the threat,” according to PAHO’s Gina Watson. “Conducting and processing test results quickly and efficiently and distributing accurate information to the public will be crucial. Communication is vital.”
Watson and epidemiologist Pablo Endara stressed the government’s role in promoting good hygiene to fight the virus. “Much of the focus is on testing and handling outbreaks but there is nothing more important than instructing people how to avoid the infection in the first place,” said Endara. “We must disseminate the prevention recommendations of WHO and the U.S. Center for Disease Control. To many of us, telling people to wash their hands sounds almost silly, like something Mother used to say, but it is so important for controlling this disease.”
Watson agreed: “The government is responsible for cleaning public spaces but it is even more important that we get out the word about good hygienic practices. We all see the prevelance of face masks, not just in Ecuador but around the world, but people must realize that there are other things they can do that are much more effective in preventing Covid-19.”