The College of Physicians of Guayas is asking the government to suspend all events associated with the Cuenca independence holidays and Day of the Dead to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The country’s largest association of doctors also recommends banning Christmas and New Year’s activities and postponing the February national election.
“The events associated with the holidays are the primary source for transmitting the coronavirus and they should not be permitted,” says Wilson Tenorio, president of the college. “We are also calling on the government to disallow inter-provincial travel during the holidays since this transmits the disease from one region to another.”
Tenorio said he was not advocating that the holidays themselves be cancelled, only that families enjoy them at home. “People need a break from work but they don’t need to be traveling and attending public gatherings.” He also questioned the “uneven” enforcement of health related rules around the country. “What good does it do to close cemeteries when you allow beaches to remain open?” he asked.
In a public statement, the Guayas College said its recommendations are based on a nationwide increase in Covid cases as well as the threat the virus poses to health professionals. “Many in the healthcare profession have died from the virus and many more have been sickened by it and we ask the national government to take strong steps to protect those who protect the country. We also ask the government to provide higher quality biosecurity equipment for health workers in public hospitals and clinics.”
According to Tenorio, pandemic trends around the world are heading up. “The surge in cases in Europe and North America is alarming and measures must be taken immediately to slow the spread in Ecuador,” he says. “Fifteen percent of all positive tests in the country have been recorded in October and the trend is upward. We are also concerned about the extremely high rates of positive test results, which range from 25 percent to over 50 percent in different areas of the country, when the World Health Organization recommends that it should be under five percent.”
He added that under-testing is a chronic problem in Ecuador. In South America, only Bolivia has a lower testing rate, per capita, than Ecuador, he says. “Because of the low rate our national Covid policy is little more than a guessing game and, given this fact, we must be especially proactive in our response.”
On Monday, the Health Ministry reported that a total of 162,178 Ecuadorians have tested positive for Covid-19, with 12,573 dying of the disease. The provinces showing the fastest increase in cases are Pichincha (20 percent), Galapagos (10 percent) and Bolívar (9 percent).
Ecuador’s Civil Registry says it has recorded 36,547 more deaths in 2020 than for the corresponding period in 2019 and 2018. Carchi, Azuay and Cañar provinces have shown the highest mortality rate in recent weeks.