Despite negative Covid-19 test result, doctors say Cuencanos should prepare for virus; Peru, Colombia report first cases; Tourist is latest case

Mar 7, 2020 | 12 comments

Although the regional director of the Ministry of Health says there are no cases of coronavirus cases in Cuenca, local physicians are less optimistic. Announcing another negative test result on Friday, David Ordonez, Zone 6 Ministry of Health director, said he felt confident that Cuenca was “free of the disease.”

Masked travelers arrive at the Quito airport. (El Comercio)

The test Ordonez was referring to was that of a national police employee who returned from Spain February 14 on the same flight as a 71-year-old woman who was diagnosed two weeks later as Ecuador’s first coronavirus case.

“I hope the ministry is correct that there are no cases in Cuenca but the mathematical odds are against it,” said Dr. Jaime Ramirez Friday afternoon at a University of Cuenca symposium. “There have been less than 200 tests conducted in all of Ecuador so I think it is very unlikely that we have an accurate count in specific communities regarding the virus. I hope I am wrong.”

Dr. Franklin Castro, another physician at the symposium, said he agreed with Ramirez. “Until this week I was more hopeful than Dr. Castro that the virus could be contained but, as the days go by, I more and more think his assessment is correct. We see what is happening around the world, most lately in the United States, and we must accept the fact that we are interconnected. We must prepare.”

Foreign tourist, Ecuador’s 14th case, is in serious condition
The latest case to be diagnosed as coronavirus, a foreign tourist, remains in “very serious” condition in a Quito hospital. The health ministry, which reported the case Friday afternoon, has yet to release information about the victim’s age, sex, nationality or which country he or she was traveling from. It did say that the victim had contact with 14 or 15 others and those individuals are being checked for the virus.

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Peru and Colombia announce first cases
On Friday, Peru and Colombia announced they had identified the first cases of the coronavirus in those countries. Health officials in both countries say that the victims may have infected others and that more tests are being administered.

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