Health officials confirm 15th coronavirus case, turn attention to inter-provincial bus system

Mar 9, 2020 | 13 comments

Ecuador’s Ministry of Health reported the country’s 15th case of the coronavirus on Sunday. The ministry said that the 41-year-old woman who tested positive was related to the country’s first case, a woman who arrived in Ecuador from Spain on February 14.

The health ministry says buses and bus terminals need to improve sanitation to combat the coronavirus.

The ministry said it is also seeking information about a Paraguayan man who was visiting Ecuador before he was diagnosed with the virus in Asunción. In a statement, health officials say they want to identify persons who had contact with the man during his visit to Guayaquil.

On Saturday, the ministry reported that heightened health standards have been successfully installed at the country’s airports, with extra precautions being taken at the international airports in Quito and Guayaquil. “New protocols have been instituted at the airports involving the screening of passengers and the hygenic maintenance of facilities,” a spokesman for the civil aviation authority said.

The health ministry and Ministry of Transportation said it is turning its attention to improving health conditions at the country’s bus terminals. Health minister Catalina Andramuño said the terminals pose especially difficult challenges due to the high volume of traffic that passes through them on a daily basis. “We are meeting with managers of bus facilities throughout the country, telling them about the new standards we must install to fight the spread of the coronavirus,” she said. “We are also discussing with bus companies and operators the need for better sanitation on the buses, especially the need to install hand sanitizer on all units.”

Andramuño said the ministry is increasing its capacity to respond to the public following social media complaints over the weekend that calls to the 171 coronavirus hotline were going unanswered and that the health ministry’s website had crashed. “We hope to have the situation corrected on Monday,” she said.

Elsewhere in Latin America, new coronavirus cases are being reported daily. On Sunday, Argentina reported the first virus death in South America.

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