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More supplies and health workers headed to Guayaquil; New case numbers drop; City closes Feria Libre; Firemen punished for party

Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner announced Saturday new government assistance to help Guayaquil weather the coronavirus outbreak. “As of Monday, we are sending 1,500 hospital beds to the city as well as large deliveries of personal protective gear, hospital equipment and medicine,” he said. In addition, he said “a large number” of public health doctors and nurses are being reassigned to Guayaquil and Guayas Province.

Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner

“Guayaquil needs our help and the government will provide it to the best of our ability,” the vice president said. Of Ecuador’s 3,456 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 2,402 were in Guayas Province as of Saturday afternoon.

Sonnenholnzer offered an apology to the people of Guayaquil for the government’s late response, saying the pandemic has created a great deal of confusion and fear among all of the country’s institution. “In particular, I apologize to those who have lost family members and friends to the virus as well as other causes in recent days and I regret the pain and humiliation many have experienced by the difficulty in transporting the bodies of the dead to funeral homes and cemeteries,” he said. “That situation has greatly improved since early in the week and we are working hard to avoid a repeat of it.”

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Sonnenholnzer also regretted the “deterioration” of Ecuador’s reputation due to international news reports of the Guayaquil epidemic. Such media at the Guardian, CNN and the Washington Post have posted articles about bodies on the sidewalks of Guayaquil due to the lack of funeral home services. “The images are very troubling for all of us and I can’t imagine the pain they bring to the families of the deceased,” he said.

Repeating criticism of the news media lodged Friday by Foreign Minister José Valencia, Sonnenholnzer said the number of uncollected bodies in Guayaquil has been greatly exaggerated. “From a dozen cases, the newspapers and tv channels turned it into hundreds, which is dishonest and unfair,” he said, adding that now is not the time to fight a public relations war. “Sensationalism always carries the day with the media and there is little we can do about it.”

Guayas Province Governor Pedro Pablo Duart offered what he called “clarification” to Guayaquil’s body crisis. “It is important to understand that what happened would not have been news, even in Ecuador, under normal circumstances,” he said. “The city’s death rate has increased 20 to 25 percent over the past 10 days, which could have been handled easily by the funeral homes. During the health emergency, however, more than 80 percent of the funeral businesses in Guayas Province are not operating, which has forced us to ask the military to assume the job of removing, storing and burying bodies.”

Duart added that the health ministry estimates that about 20 percent of recent deaths in Guayaquil are the result of Covid-19 infections, despite the fact that few of the dead have been tested.

The scene Thursday at the Feria Libre market on Av. Las Americas.

Cuenca fire fighters reprimanded for partying after curfew
Cuenca Fire Chief Chief Patrick Lucero has apologized to the public for the behavior of two firefighters who violated the national curfew Friday night. One of the men recorded a video of the incident which appears to show several young North American and European women partying in an empty El Centro street with his partner. The chief said the firefighters are being penalized and that there will not be a repeat of their actions.

Feria Libre market shuts down
Cuenca’s largest community market, El Arenal –commonly known as Feria Libre– will be closed for five days and maybe longer. Marcelo Álvarez, director of city markets, said the action was taken due to widespread violations of restrictions on businesses and social distancing orders. “There was a lack of cooperation with the health emergency requirements by both vendors and customers and in the interest of public safety we are closing the market from Monday, April  6 through Friday, April 10.” He said the closure could be extended depending on circumstances he did not describe. The market will undergo a deep cleaning and fumigation during the closure, Álvarez said.

Saturday Covid-19 numbers
The government reported 97 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing Ecuador’s total in 3,465. The increase was the smallest in five days. The death count now stands at 172 confirmed, although another 146 deaths showed virus-like symptoms. In addition, 527 virus patients are hospitalized while 2,666 are being monitored, according to the health ministry.

Guayas Province maintains the highest number of cases in the country, at 69 percent of the total, with 75 percent of those in Guayaquil.

By province, Saturday’s case totals are: Guayas, 2,402; Pichincha, 321; Los Ríos, 153; Azuay, 99; Manabi, 71; El Oro, 56; Canar, 56; Santa Elena, 48; Loja, 27; Bolívar, 26; Chimborazo, 25; Imbabura, 20; Esmeraldas, 14; Tungurahua, 22; Galapagos, 19; Cotopaxi, 16; Pastaza and Carchi, 9; Zamora Chinchipe, 2; Napo and Orellana, two each.

19 thoughts on “More supplies and health workers headed to Guayaquil; New case numbers drop; City closes Feria Libre; Firemen punished for party

  1. Don’t mess with Otto; he attended the super-elite German boys school in Miami. Those guys don’t kid around.

      1. My Claim. No link just the person that I am with recognizing people they know from Guayaquil. Friends in Salinas seeing apartments that they know belong to families from Guayaquil having lights on and people in them after there was supposed to be no movement between provinces.
        Check out the Facebook page if Otto Vera the mayor of Santa Elena. Many people posting on his page about the problem.

        1. I was referring to Mr Sonnenholzner having attended a “super-elite German boys school in Miami”.

          1. Opinions are one thing…. but imagine the efficiency of this site, if people tended to post only what they had confirmed as being fact. Same thing goes to those (like yourself) who spend a needless amount of time and space playing “gotcha!”

            1. Neither much time nor space was spent or was I playing. If somebody posts something as a fact for which on the whole wide web does not appear to exist a single source I have every right to express my doubts. That´s all there is to it, don´t read too much into it.

          2. Schiller University is a diploma mill. It is accredited by a worthless agency, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Its graduates (victims) are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that is worthless.

            1. Funny then, how an “super-elite German boy school” becomes a “diploma mill” in the course of just a day.

      2. Does no one know how to Google? His bio lists his schools and are hot linked:

        Born Otto Ramón Sonnenholzner Sper
        19 March 1983 (age 37)
        Guayaquil, Ecuador
        Political party Independent
        Spouse(s) Claudia Salem Barakat
        Alma mater Schiller International University
        German School of Guayaquil
        Occupation Broadcaster, journalist, economist, politician

        Schiller International University: is a private, for-profit university with its main campus and administrative headquarters in Largo, Florida. It has campuses on two continents in four countries: Tampa Bay, Paris, France, Madrid, Spain, Heidelberg, Germany. Schiller offers Associate, Bachelor, and Master’s degrees. It also offers online degrees through distance learning.

        1. I just took issue with the statement that he “attended the super-elite German boys school in Miami” which he did not. Schiller (if indeed this is the institution the other user was referring to) is not a “boys school” nor did the VP attend its Florida campus. He attended Schiller classes in Germany and Spain.

          1. You’re talking to the wrong guy…. it was you who asked the question that could have been easily answered by a few key strokes. Same goes for the original poster, who could have easily verified the misinformation that was passed on to him.

            1. You are right, of course, but that was not the point. The internet is full of all sorts of information and Mr Fong may have heard or seen information that I have not, so it seemed fair to me to ask him for his source(s) first.

  2. Why are they not as concerned about the rest of the country as they are if Guayaquil? Thee is supposed to be no interprovincial travel yet people from Guayaquil keep showing up on the coast like they are in vacation. Help Guayaquil, of course but help the rest of the country by enforcing the restrictions that are already in place.

  3. When you say 80% of the funneral homes are not operating, are they doing this because they are not processing cv19 human remains? They are supposed to be trained and equipped in dealing with infectious disease.

    1. They are bound by the curfew and considered non essential if I understand the present restrictions!!

  4. It’s too bad people just don’t “get” the fact that their personal actions can threaten the entire community. Ignoring restrictions and social distancing orders is selfish, that type of attitude will cost lives and prolong the spread. Unfortunately, the scary part in all of this is “you can’t fix stupid”.

  5. Funeral homes should be an essential service. the government should force them to remain open … or permanently close. they would rather have bodies in the street than doing their job ? normally 150 funeral homes but only 20 open ?

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