The national Emergency Operations Committee (COE) announced new reductions in pandemic restrictions Wednesday, including the elimination of the requirement that international travelers present a negative Covid-19 test entering the country. The change also applies to visitors to the Galapagos Islands.
Health Minister Ximena Garzón said the country is “transitioning” to a new phase of the pandemic, which she predicts will soon move to endemic status. “We will learn to live with the virus just as we do with seasonal influenza,” she said. Because of the success of our health protocols and our vaccination program, we are in the process of decongesting our hospitals. Today, a growing number of our intensive care units are available for patients suffering illnesses other than Covid.”
According to Garzón, the number of Covid cases have dropped by more than 75 percent since a peak in late January. She said that that there were 50,787 cases at the end of the second week of 2022, while in the fifth week only 9,032 were confirmed. Ninety-eight percent of cases are of the Omicron variant, she added.
In addition to elimination of the negative test requirement for travelers, the COE announced that provinces with green light pandemic status can return to 100 percent capacity for most business and public venues, including restaurants, shopping centers and concerts. Juan Zapata, COE president, said he believed that most of Ecuador will under green light rules within one to two weeks.
He added that the vaccine requirement will remain in place for travelers but suggested that it will be eliminated as conditions improve. The vaccination mandate for indoor locations under capacity limits expired January 22 although some businesses continue to ask for vaccine certificates.
The COE said it will issue guidance for the Carnival holidays, February 25 to March 2, early next week. “If the trend in Covid cases continues to decline, we hope to have a holiday with few restrictions,” Zapata said. In January, President Guillermo Lasso predicted that this year’s Carnival would be a “coming out party for a post-Covid Ecuador.”