More test results send Covid-19 case count soaring; Turi is Cuenca’s hotspot; More cars are confiscated; Cuenca holiday is cancelled

Apr 11, 2020 | 58 comments

A deluge of new test results has pushed Ecuador’s confirmed Covid-19 case count to more than 7,000. The Ministry of Health said that a 300 to 400 percent increase in tests  pushed the one-day increase of cases to 2,196, the largest to date.

Hospital beds are prepared at the national athletic training center in Cuenca.

Reporting the new numbers, Interior Minister María Paula Romo said the totals are not a surprise. “We are receiving a very large number of test reports and this naturally increases the number of confirmed cases,” she said. “This is something we expected and does not change our opinion that we are approaching peak cases. It is important for our testing program to expand to provide a more accurate picture of the outbreak.” She said that, to date, almost 25,000 tests have been conducted in Ecuador.

Romo added that the high case count is also the result of Tuesday’s decision to include non-tested cases with virus symptoms confirmed by doctors.

Friday’s report showed an increase in deaths to 297 as well as hospitalizations, which now stand at 394, 171 of those in critical condition. The vast majority of those testing positive for the virus, 6,102, are receiving treatment at home and almost 400 have recovered and now test negative. “We are fortunate that so many of the patients have mild symptoms and can remain in their homes,” Romo said. “With the very unfortunate exception of Guayas Province, our hospitals have been able to accommodate the most serious cases.”

Guayas Province has the vast majority of the country’s confirmed cases, with 5,278, or 73 percent of the total, followed by Pichincha with 579; Los Ríos with 226; Manabí with 188; Azuay with 151; and El Oro with 137.

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In Azuay Province, 131 of the confirmed cases are in Cuenca.

Virus update

Turi is Cuenca’s Covid-19 ‘hotspot’
With 14 of Cuenca’s confirmed Covid-19 cases, Turi has become the focus of an intensive testing program to identify the spread of the virus. The parish, on Cuenca’s southside, recorded the city’s and Azuay Province’s first confirmed case, a woman who returned from a visit to Spain in early March. In addition to the confirmed cases, another 90 residents are under supervised quarantine, many of them believed to be infected. Among Cuenca’s other 35 parishes, Baños has four confirmed cases, Ricaurte has three, Nulti has two and Chiquintad, Sayausí, San Joaquín, Sinincay and El Valle have one each.

Cuenca’s foundation celebration is cancelled
Because of the national health emergency, Cuenca will not celebrate its Spanish foundation this year. “Because of the circumstances, we cannot hold the public ceremonies and events that are part of the holiday,” Azuay Governor Xavier Martinez said Friday. He added that the celebration will resume in 2021.

Cars are confiscated for rules violations
Fifty-seven more private cars and trucks were confiscated Friday for violation of driving day rules. The number brings to more than 200 the vehicles that have been impounded this week, according to the Cuenca transportation authority, EMOV. Cristian Andrade, EMOV chief, said that his office will intensify patrols in the coming days, setting up more check points throughout the city. “The information has been widely distributed about the days vehicle owners are allowed on the streets and there is no excuse for ignorance,” he said. In addition to having their vehicles impounded for the duration of the health emergency, offenders are fined $200 and must pay towing and storage charges. The penalty also includes a nine-point deduction from driver’s licenses.

Moreno announces National Humanitarian Assistance Fund
President Lenin Moreno said Friday he is establishing a national fund for small business, workers and families that have been harmed by the national Covid-19 health emergency. The fund will provide financial assistance to a million families in addition to the 950,000 already receiving the national poverty bonus. The president said the fund will be financed through a five percent tax on profits of companies that earn more than one million a year and a payroll deduction, beginning at two percent, for those who earn more than $500 a month.

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