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Ecuador registers 25,000 more deaths from March through July 2020 than in 2019

Statistics from the national Civil Registry show that 25,519 more deaths were recorded between March and July of 2020 than during the same period of 2019. The Ministry of Health concedes that most of the excess deaths are probably the result of the Covid-19 virus.

The health ministry says it is not surprised by the number of excess deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officially, the ministry says 5,702 have died of the virus in Ecuador with another 3,470 deaths listed as probable.

According the Civil Registry, the most excess deaths occurred in in Guayas, Manabí, Santa Elena and Los Ríos Provinces. Guayas, which suffered the country’s worst outbreak in April, may account for as many as 10,000 of the above-normal deaths.

Ecuador Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos admits he is not surprised by the death count but warns against making assumptions until the data can be analyzed. “I have said since April that the number of infections is at least 10 times more than the official figure and possibly as much as 50 times more. It makes sense that the number of deaths would increase accordingly,” he says.

Zevallos says that many of the deaths may be “byproducts” of Covid but not caused by Covid. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people who needed medical attention have avoided seeing doctors or going to the hospitals for fear of being infected,” he says. “This has been a pattern throughout the world and some studies indicate that as many as 25 percent of excess deaths are the result of sick people staying away from health facilities during the pandemic.”

The Civil Registry numbers also indicate the fatality rate from Covid is higher in coastal and Amazon provinces than in the sierra. Although Quito now exceeds Guayaquil in total number of officially registered infections, the death rate from the disease is only 12 percent that of Guayaquil.

According to Zevallos, preliminary studies show that the fatality rate may be lower at higher elevations.

Chart compares 2020 deaths to those in 2019