Cyclist Richard Carapaz became the first Ecuadorian and only the fourth South American to stand on the Tour de France winners’ podium on Sunday. The tour’s top three finishers make the podium. The Belgian Wout van Aert won the 3,414 kilometer race that finished on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
For the 28-year-old Carapaz, the strong finish ranks him seventh among the world’s top cyclists. Earlier this year, he won the Tour of Switzerland and was the winner of the Giro d’Italia in 2019. In all, the Carche racer has won 11 major events since 2016.
More than 100 in Covid-19 delta quarantine
The number of people being quarantined and observed for possible infection of the Covid-19 delta variant has risen to 105, according to the Ecuador Ministry of Health. All of those under observation are in El Oro, Guayas and Loja Provinces. Officially, the ministry says it has identified 10 delta cases, eight in El Oro and two in Guayas and that five of those infected have died.
The Zone 7 ministry office says it takes about two weeks to sequence samples from those being observed. “Since this is a new variant we did not have the means for testing so this is taking more time than usual,” said zonal director Isabel Cueva. “We will receive test kits later this week to speed up the process.
Cueva says she believes the delta cases came into the country from Peru, which is experiencing what she calls a “large scale outbreak”. “Although the border is closed, with some essential services exemptions, there is a continual flow of people coming across at informal crossings,” she says. “It is not surprising that the cases we have discovered are in El Oro and Guayas Provinces, close to the border. We are also watching closely for cases in Azuay and the Amazonian provinces.”
She added that the five deaths all involved patients with complicating health factors. “They were all very sick when they were infected,” she said. “There is no evidence that delta cases are more severe than previous versions of Covid but it is much transmissible.”
Rivers run high
Weekend rainfall have officials on alert for possible flooding of the Yanuncay and Tomebamba Rivers. The Cuenca Risk Management office says that the two rivers had not yet reached flood stage but were rising early Monday morning. “We urge that those near low-lying areas of the rivers to maintain caution in the case the rains continue and water levels rise.”
The city utility company, ETAPA, said the amount of recent rainfall is unusal. “July and August are our driest months and we rarely see more than a few millimeters of rain at a time,” the company’s meteorologist said. “The rain in Cuenca has been light to moderate but heavier amounts are falling the Cajas Mountains, which has caused the river levels to rise.”
Call to eliminate airline flight sur-charge
The International Association of Air Travel is asking Ecuador to drop a $50 fee it attaches to ticket prices. The fee, called Ecodelta, is collected by the Tourism Ministry for international travel promotion. The IATA says eliminating the fee would help the recovery of the airline industry and increase travel. “The airlines continue to suffer loses in the South American market and we are exploring every option to increase travel demand,” said Peter Cerdá, regional IATA vice president. “In Ecuador’s case, dropping the $50 additional fee should increase ticket sales.”
According to the Tourism Ministry, the Ecodelta fee generates about $60 million annually. The ministry argues that the fee is important for advertising in foreign markets to attract international tourists.
Illegal parties busted Friday night
Cuenca Citizen Guards and National Police shut down three parties Friday night in the Baños, El Vergel and El Centro sectors of Cuenca. According to Guard spokesman, the largest party was at a private home in Baños while the El Vergel party was at bar that had been closed for previous violations. Under current Covid-19 health restrictions, private gatherings are only allowed for close family groups and cannot involve excessive drinking.
The spokesman said all three parties involved young people, ages 16 to 28. More than 30 fines were issued for lack of masking and drinking law violations.