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Curfew expanded again, to begin at 2 p.m.; Provincial borders closed to private vehicles; Guayaquil patients could transfer to Cuenca

President Lenin Moreno

President Lenín Moreno said Tuesday that the nationwide curfew will begin at 2 p.m., effective Wednesday, due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. On his Twitter account, the president said the 5 a.m. curfew end-time will not change. “This move is necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19, which now exceeds 1,000 cases in Ecuador,” he said. He added that enforcement will be strict, with offenders fined $100 for a first offense and $400 for a second. Subsequent violations will result in a jail sentence.

Azuay provincial border crossings closed to most traffic
The Azuay Province Emergency Operations Committee (COE) has closed all border crossings into the province to private cars, passenger vans and light trucks without safe-conduct permits. The COE also restricted highway access between cantons within the province. According to Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez, the order has the unanimous support of mayors in the province. Martinez says the action was necessary to protect the citizens of the province from the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios said that in a typical week, 22,400 vehicles enter the province from Guayas Province, a number that fell to 268 last week. “Now, that traffic will be reduced even further, to vehicles carrying essential supplies to Cuenca and other cities,” he said.

Virus patients could be transferred from Guayaquil to Cuenca
The regional Ministry of Health office said Tuesday morning that Covid-19 patients from Guayas Province could be transferred to Cuenca if hospital space in Guayaquil is exhausted. Several hospitals and clinics in Guayaquil say they are at maximum capacity and cannot accept additional patients. The announcement has prompted a social media campaign to stop the transfers, with one poster writing that “Cuenca medical treatment space should be reserved for Cuenanos.”

As of Tuesday morning, Guayas Province had 806 of the country’s 1,049 cases of Covid-19. Azuay Province had 28 cases, 26 of them in Cuenca.

Possible water restrictions
Also announced Tuesday morning was the possibility of water restrictions for Cuenca customers. Public utlity ETAPA said it has not made a final decision but that a recent increase of water usage of 25 percent per household and lack of rain has prompted the consideration. ETAPA says the community of Nero, in southwest Cuenca, is already under water rationing, receiving water from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.