Medical group calls for ‘total confinement’ as COE delays final decision on new emergency orders

Apr 21, 2021 | 13 comments

The Ecuador Society of Intensive Care has joined other national and local medical organizations in asking the government to impose a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. “We urgently need a state of total confinement of the population to control the increase of new cases,” Society President Cristian Cevallos said Tuesday.

A patient being attended to in Cuenca’s Corral Moscoso public hospital intensive care ward. (El Comercio)

“Critical care hospital beds are completely full in Quito and throughout the country and we require immediate measures to revitalize the health care system so we can adequately care for the critically ill,” he added.

Juan Zapata, president of the national Emergency Operations Committee (COE), said recommendations of the medical profession will help determine new restrictions for President Lenin Moreno’s next state of emergency order. “We are in the process of collecting and analyzing the information that will determine the measures we take to control the virus,” he said. “We must balance a number of factors in this determination, including health, economic and legal interests.”

On Monday, Zapata ruled out a quarantine similar to the one imposed in early 2020, but said “serious restrictions” need to be applied to stabilize the health care system.

Zapata says the COE has no deadline in presenting its recommendations to Moreno. “We are being extremely careful in evaluating the information we have, particularly the legal questions that have caused problems in previous emergency declarations.”

The Constitutional Court ordered an end to the last two declarations, claiming the government did not provide sufficient justification for curtailing the constitutional rights of citizens. The court also criticized the orders for not providing advance notice of mobility restrictions, some of which went into effect the day of the order.

“We are taking our time so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past,” Zapata said. He and other members of the COE met with Constitutional Court judges for guidance on legal issues regarding health restrictions. “We learned a great deal from the meeting and we will apply that to our deliberations,” he said.

Zapata added: “We ask the public for patience as we complete our research and develop recommendations. We also ask that people not speculate on what decisions we ultimately arrive at. As I said earlier, before new restrictions are applied there will adequate notice before they take effect.”

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