Official Covid-19 count will include cases with symptoms; Gov’t considers relaxing some restrictions; Guayaquil body fraud investigated

Apr 9, 2020 | 52 comments

Interior Minister María Paula Romo said Wednesday that the government’s official count of Covid-19 cases is expanding to include those with symptoms of the virus. Until Wednesday, the count only included cases confirmed by testing.

Cuenca’s municipal cemetery is adding burial spaces in anticipation of Covid-19 deaths.

The change is the result of the government’s admission that the full extent of infections is far greater than testing numbers indicate. Some epidemiologists estimate the true number is five to ten times higher than reported.

Under the new accounting method, Wednesday’s official count of Covid-19 cases rose to 4,450, an increase of 455 from Tuesday. The official death toll is 242 but the health ministry says another 221 deaths are most likely the result of Covid-19. The provinces with the most cases are Guayas, 3,047; Pichincha, 440; Los Ríos, 175; Manabí, 132; and Azuay, 107.

In her Wednesday comments, Romo also said that the government is evaluating strengthening or relaxing restrictions in different locations in the country. “We are developing a traffic light system, red, green and yellow signals, to show when certain activities can or cannot be resumed,” she said. “The cities and provinces where we are considering reducing restrictions are those with the lowest number of cases and where health experts tell us there is low risk of the spread of the virus.”

On the other hand, she said that restrictions may be intensified in some areas with a high number of cases, particularly Guayaquil and Quito.

Regarding the continuing problem of quarantine violations, Romo said the Emergency Operations Committee has established a gps tracking system, based on cell phones, to monitor the movements of those who have been ordered to stay at home.

Virus update

Pay-for-bodies fraud investigated in Guayaquil
At least 10 Guayaquil families say they paid from $30 to $100 to hospital morgue workers to find the bodies of their relatives. One woman said she was told that the payment was needed for workers to verify the identity of her father due to the large number or corpses in the morgue at the Guasmo Sur Hospital. The prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the allegations and said the handling of bodies at all Guayas Province hospitals, public and private, will be reviewed.

City prepares more burial sites at cemetery
In anticipation of coronavirus deaths, the Cuenca’s Municipal Cemetery is preparing 384 burial sites that will be ready by early May. Cemetery manager Wolfram Palacios also says his office is purchasing 200 coffins that it will sell, at cost, for $100.

Mexico says it may have 26,000 Covid-19 cases
The government of Mexico said Wednesday that the country has at least 26,000 cases of Covid-19 virus. The health ministry admitted that its testing program was inadequate and that its official count of 3,181 is a fraction of the actual number based on recorded deaths and hospital admissions of patients showing coronavirus symptoms.

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