Health Minister urges masking as Covid cases rise; Judge in Glas case dismissed; Unemployment drops; Cuenca-Guayaquil highway closes for four days
Acknowledging the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country, new Health Minister Jose Ruales is encouraging people to mask up indoors. “Last week we had a 50 percent increase in cases of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, from 8,000 to almost 12,000,” he said. “One of the best ways to control infections is by wearing face masks in enclosed areas.”
According to Ruales, the government is not considering applying new pandemic restrictions. “The good news is that the number of people hospitalized by Covid, and the number of deaths, remains low and has not changed with the higher infection rate. Fortunately, the subvariants circulating in the population are mild, similar to the common cold.”
The number of new Covid cases reported in Cuenca and Azuay Province mirrored the national trend, says regional Health Ministry Director Andrea Bersosa. “As is the case nationally, we are not experiencing an increase in intensive care patients and we had no deaths related to the virus in the past two weeks.”
Unemployment drops but under-employment remains high
The National Institute for Statistics and Census reports that unemployment dropped 1.1 percent in June, from 5.1 percent to 4 percent. INEC also reported that under-employment remains unchanged from May, at 23.6 percent. “We show a significant reduction in unemployment due to the improving economy but the high number of people who are under-employed indicates structural problems in the employment system, since more than 65 percent of workers are in the informal market.”
INEC said June numbers could be revised based on the impact of the 18-day indigenous strike.
Judge who freed Jorge Glas is dismissed
The National Judiciary Council dismissed Santa Elena Judge Diego Moscoso Thursday, claiming he committed a number of serious infractions. “We have reached this decision based on instances of unprofessional judicial conduct and infractions of manifest negligence.”
Chief among the infractions were Moscoso’s decision in April to release former vice president Jorge Glas from prison. The council concluded that the judge did not have proper jurisdiction to consider the case since Glas was not a resident of Santa Elena and was not incarcerated there. Moscoso’s decision was overturned by the Constitutional Court and Glas was returned to prison.
Glas was serving two six-year sentences for accepting bribes during his term as vice president, from 2013 to 2017.
Prior to the National Judiciary Council’s decision, Moscoso was already under a 90-day suspension ordered by the Santa Elena judicial council for “unprofessional behavior.”
Cuenca-Molletura-Guayaquil highway closes for rock removal
The Cuenca-Molletura-Guayaquil highway will be closed from Tuesday, July 26 to Friday, July 29 for rock removal above the roadway. The work will conducted near kilometer marker 49, 22 kilometers west of Cuenca. Once the work is completed the Transportation Ministry says it will consider opening the highway to 24-hour traffic. The alternate route between Cuenca and Guayaquil is the Biblián-Zhud-Cochancay highway.