Drop in Covid cases offers encouragement; Lasso to scuttle Correa-era intel service; New airline begins service in October; 1,800 change sexual designation

May 1, 2021 | 8 comments

There are “signs of hope” in Ecuador’s fight against the Covid-19 virus, according to Juan Zapata, president of the national Emergency Operations Committee. “There has been a decline in new cases during the first week of the health emergency and we believe the numbers will continue to go down,” he said. “It is difficult to know whether this is because of the restrictions or part of the organic progression of the pandemic.”

COE President Juan Zapata.

He said the number new Covid cases reported on April 23, the first day of the state of emergency was 5,900, while the average daily count since then has been about 1,600. On Friday, there were 1,173 new cases.

In addition to benefits of the new health restrictions, Zapata believes we are beginning to see the benefits of the vaccination program, with about 800,000 Ecuadorians receiving at least one dose of the Pfizer and Similac vaccines.

He added that it will take 10 days to two weeks before the drop in new cases is reflected in hospitalizations and deaths, which he says continue at “unacceptable” high rates. “Many of our hospitals have waiting lists for admittance to intensive care units and we will not realize improvement until everyone who needs care can receive it immediately.”

The national COE reports that the provinces with the highest number of new cases are Zamora Chinchipe, El Oro, Loja, Los Ríos and Bolívar. The regional hospitals in Pichincha, Guayas and Azuay Provinces continue to receive more Covid patients than the can accommodate.

Lasso to dismantle Correa-era intelligence service
President-elect Guillermo Lasso announced Friday that he will dismantle the national intelligence agency established during the presidency of Rafael Correa. He he will close the Centro de Inteligencia Estratégica (CIES), called the Secretaría Nacional de Inteligencia (Senain) during the Correa administration, as soon as he assumes office later this month.

“These services were used primarily against perceived enemies of the state, including journalists and political opponents,” he said. “It is not the business of the government to persecute those it disagrees with.” He added that intelligence functions needed to protect national security and to fight crime will be transferred to the National Police and to the Armed Forces.

New airline will take flight in October
Ecuatoriana Airlines said Friday it will begin service in October with the first flights connecting Guayaquil and Quito. CEO Eduardo Delgado said that service to Cuenca will begin before the end of the year with flights to Loja, Esmeradas, Manta and other destinations to be added as the Covid-19 pandemic subsides and flight demand increases.

A spokeswoman for Ecuatoriana shows off the airlines’ new logo.

Delgado said the new airline, which takes its name the now-defunct 1980s and 1990s carrier, believes that the coming months are the right time to begin operations. “The recovery from the Covid and economic crises will begin later this year and we want to start on the ground-floor. This will be a well-financed operation, with investor not only from Ecuador but from the United States, and will have the strength and capacity to compete in the market and build for the future. There was a golden era of commercial aviation in the country 10 to 20 years ago and we see a return to those levels and expansion beyond.”

The airline showcased its new logo of a hummingbird on Thursday.

Almost 1,800 have officially changed sex in five years
Ecuador’s Civil Registry released statistics Thursday showing that 1,777 residents have changed their sexual identity since 2016, when a new law allowed it. The Registry reports that 1,515 changed their sexual designation from male to female and 262 have changed from female to male.

According to Robert Carrera, communication director for the Registry, as of April 26, citizens and residents can change their legal sexual status in any Civil Registry office. Prior to that, the change could only be made in the offices in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.