Hospital intensive care units in seven of Ecuador’s 24 provinces, including Azuay, are at 100 percent capacity, the national Emergency Operations Committee reports. The COE said Sunday that about half of the units are occupied by Covid-19 patients, the number of which is increasing, it says.
In addition to Azuay, hospitals in Carchi, Chimborazo, El Oro, Zamora Chinchipe, Tungurahua and Cañar Provinces report full ICU occupancy and Pichincha reports 96 percent occupancy. Nationally, 74 percent of critical care beds are full.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Health says it is awaiting test results for more than 100 people possibly infected with the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The first cases are concentrated in Machala and El Oro Province but other cases have been identified in Guayas, Azuay and Pinchincha Provinces. The ministry says it expects the variant to spread and possibly become the dominant strain of the virus in Ecuador.
Prison riot rapist kills himself
The prisoner accused of raping a female police officer during Friday’s prison riot at the Cotopaxi Prison in Latacunga was found dead in his cell Saturday morning. Prison officials called his death by hanging a suicide. The policewoman was raped after six police officers were kidnapped during the riot.
Newly appointed head of the country’s prison system, Fausto Cobo, is questioning why a female officer was assigned to riot duty at a men’s prison. “It makes no sense she would be in that position in the first place,” he said, adding that he will meet this week with National Police leaders in Quito to make sure it does not happen again.
VP confident of making vaccine goal, clarifies hospital pharmacy statements
Ecuador Vice President Alfredo Borrero says he has no doubt President Guillermo Lasso’s pledge to vaccinate nine million Ecuadorians in the first 100 days of his administration will be fulfilled. “Between the doses we have on hand and those that will arrive within days and weeks, we have more than enough to accomplish the mission and to meet the public demand,” he said.
He said that a million doses of the Chinese Cansino vaccine will arrive this week. “This is a single-dose and our vaccine brigades will use it in rural areas where it will be difficult to go back to give a second dose. We will also use it in urban areas where we need to increase the vaccination rate, since some people may be hesitant about returning for a second shot.”
Borrero also clarified statements he made last week that implied pharmacies in public hospitals will close. “We will maintain the pharmacies in the IESS and public hospitals but if medicines prescribed by doctors are not available there, they can be purchased by patients at private pharmacies at government expense,” he said. He added that there will be temporary closures of hospital pharmacies during the investigation into over-priced drug sales.
Colombia expands euthanasia rules
Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled Friday that people with non-terminal illnesses will be allowed to legally end their lives with medical assistance. The country has allowed assisted suicide for patients with terminal illnesses since 1997. The court said that those suffering from intense pain that cannot be controlled, even if there is not a death prognosis, should be allowed to end their lives. “It is cruel to allow terrible suffering if there is no option for relief,” the court ruled.
Opponents of the ruling, including the Catholic Church, claim it will increase the number of “suicide tourists” arriving in the country.