Death rate returns to normal as pandemic subsides; Bridge dedicated to victims of domestic violence; World Bank delivers $500 million for pandemic relief
The Ministry of Health reported Wednesday that the mortality rate returned to normal in Quito and Guayaquil in November as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. The ministry also reports that hospital occupancy, including that of intensive care units, is approaching pre-pandemic levels.
Public health officials say mortality and hospital occupancy numbers in Cuenca mirror those in Quito and Guayaquil.
“From March to October, we recorded 5,829 more deaths than for the same period of 2019 and the assumption was that most of these were the result of the Covid-19 virus,” says Xavier Solórzano, Assistant Health Minister. “The numbers for November have returned to 2019 levels.”
He added: “Recent information suggests that most of the March to October excess deaths were not the result of the virus but of other causes, including delayed medical care, suicide and accidents.”
Solórzano said the trend in reported Covid infections, hospitalizations and deaths continues to be downward. “We are encouraged by the numbers but we remind the public that we cannot let our defenses down. As we see in other areas of the world, cases and fatalities are subject to new surges and we must maintain the biosecurity measures we believe have helped contain the disease in Ecuador.”
Also on Wednesday, the health ministry denied social media reports that Ecuador planned to ban air travel to and from North America and Europe due to spikes in Covid-19 cases in those regions.
Bridge dedicated to victims of domestic violence
The Mariano Moreno Bridge that connects the historic district to Av. 12 de Abril and Parque de la Madre has been rededicated the Puente Vivas Nos Queremos (We love each other alive). In a ceremony on Wednesday, women’s organizations placed ribbons on the bridge and painted part of it purple, memorializing victims of femicide. In a noon ceremony, Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios attached a plaque to the bridge formalizing the designation.
Linda Chacha, vice president of Ecuador Women for Change, said the bridge will serve as a continuing reminder of the toll that domestic violence takes on women. “We intend to maintain the bridge as an emblem of our efforts to end the plague of violence and encourage public policy that eradicates it forever.”
Not all the women participating in the ceremony were satisfied with the day’s events. “We object to the participation of the mayor and that’s why most of the women left before he arrived,” said Sonia Quevedo. “He is against the rights of women and would sacrifice the life of a woman for the ideology of the Catholic Church.”
She added that feminist activists will continue to paint political messages on the bridge despite an earlier agreement with the city to keep it graffiti-free. “This is our space and we will use it as necessary to fight violence against women. Our lives are more important than walls and bridges.”
Ecuador to receive $500 million from the World Bank
The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved $500 million loan to assist Ecuador recover from the coronavirus pandemic. “The funds will support the families most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as strengthen policies to end constraints on private sector development and promote economic recovery,” the bank said in a press release. “The financing will also support enhanced public sector efficiency and public finance sustainability during the crisis and afterward.”
The funding is the third disbursement in a $6.5 billion loan package announced in July by the International Monetary Fund.
Ecuador Finance Minister Mauricio Pozo welcomed the new funding, saying that the “World Bank’s support shows the international community’s confidence in Ecuador and is recognition of the government’s economic program for recovery.”