Ecuador guarantees access of humanitarian flights; Virus cases double in Cuenca; Ecuador one of best-prepared for the Covid-19

Mar 20, 2020 | 17 comments

International charter flights will face no further obstacles when they attempt to land at Ecuador airports, the government said Thursday afternoon. Flights operated by Iberia KLM airlines were forced to divert from Guayaquil to Quito Wednesday after Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri blocked the runway at the city’s airport.

An Iberian Airlines jet on the ground in Quito Wednesday night before it flew Spanish nationals back to Madrid.

The flights, which had been cleared to land by Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Agency, were intended to repatriate Spanish and Dutch citizens stranded in the country as a result of Ecuador’s ban on international flights last week.

“We have apologized to the airlines and the governments of the Netherlands and Spain for the incident and told them it will not happen again,” Alexandra Ocles, Risk and Emergency Management Service director, said. “International flights for the purpose of returning foreign travelers to their home countries are allowed by this government.”

The reason for Viteri’s decision to block the landings remains unclear, according to Ocles. “She said she was preventing foreigners from entering the country but Guayaquil airport officials were told in advance that the flights only carried crew who did not intend to get off the aircraft.”

Viteri, who could face criminal charges for her actions, announced Thursday that she has been infected with coronavirus and will quarantine at home for two weeks.

Virus update

Number of Covid-19 cases doubles in Cuenca
Confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Cuenca doubled in 24 hours, rising from seven to 14, the government announced Thursday afternoon. According to Iván Granda, Minister of Economic Inclusion, four of the victims are hospitalized while the remainder are quarantined at home with mild symptoms. In addition to the Cuenca cases, there are three each in neighboring Cañar and Morona Santiago provinces.

IMF Western Hemisphere chief Alejandro Werner

Help for U.S. citizens to return home
The U.S. Embassy in Ecuador is asking its citizens not to show up at the international airports in Quito and Guayaquil without confirmed reservations on charter flights back to the U.S. The embassy says those who are having trouble making travel plans should fill out the form on the embassy website,

Resort in Gualaceo designated as treatment center
Hostería Santa Bárbara in Gualaceo will serve as a treatment and isolation facility for the coronavirus, the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion announced Thursday. The resort has 20 private rooms plus large open areas that can used for treatment as necessary. The hostería joins Vicente Corral Moscoso Hospital and the National High Performance Athletic Center in Cuenca as Azuay Province’s designated coronavirus treatment facilities.

Ecuador is one the best prepared countries in Latin America
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ecuador is one of the five most prepared countries in Latin America to handle a coronavirus outbreak. The other four are Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile. On Thursday, the IMF said that the five countries had acted “aggressively and with timeliness” to prepare for the virus and to protect their citizens. “The countries have made decisive and strategic decisions to prepare for an outbreak and we believe their action will flatten the contagion curve, saving thousands of lives,” said Alejandro Werner, director of IMF Western Hemisphere Office.


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