Ecuador Covid-19 virus update: More cases than reported, Colombia restricts travel, Argentina, Chile cases, Galapagos traveler precautions

Mar 4, 2020 | 24 comments

There are more Covid -19 coronavirus cases in Ecuador and the world than are being reported, possibly many more, says World Health Organization researcher Alex Holbrook. “The official numbers are only the cases that have been tested,” he said. “In Ecuador, for example, we are only counting the cases associated with one traveler from Spain yet thousands of travelers enter the country every day.”

Arriving air travelers are checked at the Quito airport. (El Comercio)

Holbrook, who is assigned to Latin America, was interviewed on a Quito radio station Tuesday morning. “The consensus among epidemiologists is that cases are undercounted by a factor of 10, and maybe more,” he said. He added that very soon he expects to see “very large confirmed counts” in the U.S. and Europe. “It is my opinion that the virus will spread at a slower in Latin America.”

Coronavirus updates

Health ministry reports seventh case
Ecuador has confirmed a seventh case of Covid-19 virus. The health ministry said the patient, who has only mild flu symptoms, was in contact with the 71-year-old woman who is the country’s first diagnosed coronavirus case. The infected woman, who arrived in Guayaquil from Madrid February 14, is in critical condition in a Guayaquil hospital. Also on Tuesday, the ministry said it continues to monitor 100 people in quarantine in Guayaquil and Babahoyo but has cleared another 77.

Colombia to restrict travelers from Ecuador
Colombia announced Tuesday that it will require incoming air passengers from nine countries, including Ecuador, to show certificates proving they are free of the coronavirus. The announcement did not say when the requirement will take effect.

Argentina and Chile report first coronavirus cases
Argentina confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Tuesday. The 43-year-old male victim returned recently from Europe, the health ministry said, and is being treated for “serious complications” at a Buenos Aires hospital. Chile also reported its first case of the virus and said details would be forthcoming.

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Galápagos announces new entry restrictions
The Governing Council of the Galapagos Islands has announced a plan to restrict entry to visitors who show signs of respiratory illness. New protocols call for the observation of air passengers at the Guayaquil and Quito airports as well as the Baltra and San Cristobal airports in the Galapagos.

Hotline for suspected cases
The Ministry of Health has established a telephone hotline for Ecuadorians who think they may have contracted the Covid-19 virus. Those with a cough, fever and respiratory problems can call 171 for a telephone consultation that will assess the seriousness of the symptoms. In some cases, health workers will refer callers to one of the country’s 15 designated virus treatment centers. Locally, those centers are in Cuenca and Azogues.

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