Following the announcement that cases of the Covid-19 delta variant have been confirmed in Cuenca and Quito, the national Emergency Operations Committee (COE) is recommending that capacity be reduced for restaurants, stores and public transportation in the two cities. COE President Juan Zapata says indoor capacity should be lowered to 50 percent from 75 percent and that enforcement of health rules and protocols should be stepped up..
Zapata said it is too early to consider declaring a state of emergencies in the cities. “At the moment, the epidemiological conditions in Quito and Cuenca do not warrant emergency restrictions but we are asking the local COE to strengthen local capacity requirements. We also encourage local law enforcement to intensify efforts to stop unauthorized public gatherings, especially parties where alcohol is served, and to enforce masking and social distancing requirements.”
Last week, President Guillermo Lasso ordered a state of emergency in El Oro Province and Guayaquil after 10 cases of the variant were identified. The strictest measures were ordered for El Oro, including a ban on public transportation in and out of the province, as well as a nighttime curfew.
Zapata said that the overall containment of the pandemic is going well. “The number of cases and hospitalizations have been dropping for months although we observe a small increase since last week,” he said. “Most important, the number of deaths per day are a fraction of what they were at the April peak.”
He added that he expects to see an increase in cases with the emergence of the delta variant but does not expect them to reach April levels. “We have vaccinated the most vulnerable population and are moving rapidly toward vaccinating the rest and this will slow the advance of the pandemic.”
Minister of Public Health Ximena Garzón reported Tuesday morning that 30 new cases of the Covid-19 delta variant have been identified in Ecuador. Of these, 26 are in El Oro Province, two are in Quito and two are in Cuenca. She added that health officials believe there are many more unverified cases of the variant in the country and about 200 pepole are currently being tested for possible exposure to the variant.
Garzón said the Quito cases were international travelers from Spain whose symptoms were detected at the airport. “Their condition is good and they are isolating at home,” the minister said. “As a precaution, we have isolated and are observing eight other people who were in close contact with the infected couple.”
In addition to the two delta cases identified in Cuenca, three more people are being observed for delta while another two suspected cases are in isolation in Azogues.
Of the 10 cases identified last week, seven of the patients have died, including two Monday in Machala. The ministry said all the dead suffered from other diseases before being infected with delta.