No health restrictions for holiday events, gov’t says; Lasso will seek re-election in 2025; Cotopaxi activity increases, parts of Quito receive ashfall

Dec 21, 2022 | 4 comments

Ecuadorians are free to participate in this year’s holiday events without restrictions, says President of the National Emergency Operations Committee Juan Zapata. “Although we continue to experience a high level of respiratory illness, including Covid-19, we want people to know that they are free to enjoy the traditional events of the season. We ask, however, that they maintain biosecurity measures as needed. Let’s take care of each other.”

The National Emergency Operations Committee said Tuesday there will be no health restrictions for holiday events. It continues to recommend masking indoors.

Zapata said that the face mask recommendation for indoor locations issued two weeks ago remains in effect. “The circulation of viruses is much greater in enclosed spaces and masking helps protect against infection. This is especially important for those with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to disease.”

He added that the government has not issued any sanctions for those who do not comply with the masking rule. “Our intent is not to punish people. It is to emphasize the importance of taking personal responsibility during a time of elevated health risk.”

Despite the high number of influenza and Covid cases, Health Minister José Ruales says Ecuador has the lowest death rate from respiratory illnesses in Latin America. Last week, there were four deaths from respiratory conditions, all from the flu.

Lasso says he will seek re-election 2025
President Guillermo Lasso announced Tuesday he will seek re-election in 2025. He made the announcement in Washington, D.C., where he is meeting with U.S. government and business leaders.

The 67-year-old Lasso said he has been “emboldened” by his meetings in Washington and the importance of leading Ecuador through difficult security and economic times. “The exchanges with my counterparts here make me understand the importance of the goals we have set,” he said. “I have no illusions about the crises we face and want the opportunity to overcome them and finish the work I’ve begun.”

Lasso said Ecuador’s economy is making “slow but steady” progress following the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our challenge now is to attract investment to provide more and better employment for our people,” he said.

The “immediate crisis,” Lasso said, is the fight against international drug cartels. “This has resulted in high rates of crime, especially in our coastal provinces, and violence in the prisons, and this must be attacked vigorously.”

Following the announcement, an aide to Lasso said the president has been encouraged by rising poll numbers in recent weeks and by public support for his crime-fighting proposals. “He understands that combating the drug cartels and crime within our communities will be the central issue of the next election.”

Parts of Quito are affected by Cotopaxi ashfall
Parts of Quito experienced light to moderate ashfall Tuesday as activity at the Cotopaxi volcano increased. According to the Geophysical Institute, a cloud of steam and ash reached a height of 1,300 meters above the crater and moved in a northwesterly direction Tuesday morning.

Communities affected included Chillogallo, Mariscal, Gumananí, Magdalena, Amaguaña and Conocoto in Los Chillos Valley. The ash cloud moved to the west of Mariscal Sucre International Airport and did not affect flights.

In an afternoon bulletin, the Geophysical Institute said activity at Cotopaxi was “trending upward” but remained far below that of the 2015 eruption. “The danger level from the volcano has not changed and we believe the current activity is temporary. The current danger is from falling ash and we encourage residents of affected areas to wear facemasks and other protection as needed.”