Cuenca will continue in lockdown mode until at least May 17, the cantonal Emergency Operations Committee (COE) decided Friday night. Committee members said they are concerned about overloading local hospitals with coronavirus patients and say that several other recommendations by the World Health Organization remain unmet.
In a statement, the COE said it understands the urgency expressed by President Lenin Moreno to reopen the economy and said the city is “approaching the point where this will be possible.” It added that, in the meantime, the restrictions on personal and vehicular mobility will remain in place.
The committee also agreed to a request by Mayor Pedro Palacios to reactivate some businesses as long as health guidelines are in place. Several large construction projects have been given approval to resume operations beginning next week.
COE said that, to date, the Vicente Corral Moscoso and José Carrasco Arteaga (IESS) hospitals have been able to accommodate all Covid-19 cases but said it was concerned that only four of the 28 ventilators at the two hospitals are currently unused. “We would like to see more capacity,” the committee said, adding that the hospitals expect to receive more ventilators next week.
COE said that two private hospitals in Cuenca are also treating Covid patients and have additional capacity.
The WHO recommendations that remain unmet, the committee said, are proof that new cases of the virus have peaked and broad-spectrum testing capability to track new outbreaks.
The COE noted that violations of stay-at-home rules are increasing, mostly in the areas of the city’s seven large produce and meat markets. “This is primarily a problem with the informal vendors who are facing financial deprivation due to restrictions. We understand their situation but have asked police to remind them of the health dangers.” The committee also said that some non-essential businesses are attempting to reopen in violation of health emergency rules and police are handling these cases as they arise.”
On Friday, the Ministry of Health reported that there were 565 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Azuay Province, 491 of them in Cuenca. There are 782 non-tested cases under monitored quarantine and 16 Covid patients are hospitalized in critical condition.