A team of doctors in Guayaquil say that the Covid-19 subvariant known as BA.2 may already by circulating in Ecuador. In a Monday afternoon statement, the Ministry of Health agreed but said BA.2 is not yet a “cause for alarm.”
Carlos Sandoval, Guayaquil Public Health Director, said that that BA.2 is “almost certainly” in Ecuador. “It has been circulating for more than a month in Europe and other parts of the world and it is possible that it represents as many as 10 percent of the cases locally,” he said. “The data shows that it is more contagious than the original Omicron but, for unknown reasons, it is spreading more slowly. It appears to be no more harmful than Omicron and it exhibits the same symptoms in patients.”
Epidemiologist Carlos Farhat, who keeps statistics of Covid infections in Guayas Province, says it is difficult to differentiate BA.2 from Omicron. “The good news is that is appears no more dangerous but we are concerned about spread that could reverse our downward trend of cases. It also appears that vaccines are effective in lessening its impact.”
He pointed to Denmark’s experience with BA.2. “It has been there for three or four weeks and there has been a slight increase in infections as a result,” he said. “On the other hand, the new cases have not been enough for the government to reimpose restrictions, Farhat said. He added that Denmark removed all restrictions, such as masking and social distancing, last week. Many Danish doctors are not comfortable with the lack of controls and are urging the population to maintain biosecurity measures.”
Farhat said that other European countries are experiencing a similar spread of BA.2. “In some countries, it is increasing the number of infections but in others it has not changed the downward trajectory.”
In its statement, the Health Ministry said it is monitoring infections closely but sees no reason at this point to change health policy. “We continue to urge residents to observe the health precautions recommended by the COE.”
The Ministry said there are no changes planned for the four-day Carnaval weekend that begins Friday.