One Guayas mayor dies of Covid-19, four others are infected; Signs of hope; More tests coming
Jorge Washington Orlando, Deputy Mayor of Salitre, died yesterday of complications from the Covid-19, three days after he had tested positive for the virus. In addition, four other Guayas Province mayors have tested positive and are in quarantine. Among those infected is Cynthia Viteri, mayor of Guayaquil. Guayas Province Prefect is also in quarantine after a close relative tested positive.
“I have spoken to three other mayors who have the virus and all of us were adhering to the protective measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing,” said Samborondón Mayor Juan José Yúnez, one of those infected. “It is impossible, however, to stay at home if you’re a public official. This is a crisis and and we must attend many meetings and talk to health professionals as part of our job.”
Orlando was 75 and suffered from pre-existing heatlh problems, his doctor says. Guayas Province has the country’s highest number of infections.
As Ecuador’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to rise, Director of Risk and Emergency Management Alexandra Ocles says there are indications that nationwide stay-at-home orders are having the desired effect. “We recorded the most new cases five days ago, on Sunday, and the numbers have been lower since then,” she says, acknowledging that a lack of testing could skew the counts. She also said that comparisons with outbreaks in other countries where universal shut-downs have not been imposed show Ecuador’s measures are proving effective. “A week ago, The number of cases in Ecuador and [the U.S. state of] Florida were the same. Today, Florida has almost double the cases we have.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Ecuador reports 1,403 total cases with 34 deaths. Guayas Province has 73 percent of the total with 1,021 followed by Pichincha [Quito] with 121, Los Ríos 52 and Manabí 38.
Azuay Province has 37 cases, 35 of them in Cuenca, where six patients are hospitalized four of them in critical condition.
Curfew violation arrests mount
Almost a thousand people have been arrested in Ecuador for violating country’s curfew since it was imposed 10 days ago. As of midnight Thursday, 991 had been arrested, with 200 of these sent to jail. “We are very serious about enforcing the rules and violators will be punished,” says Interior Minister María Paula Romo. “We are also increasing the surveillance of people who are out of their homes during non-curfew hours, from 5 a.m to 2 p.m., and will pefform more checks to determine that those on the street have legitimate reasons.”
More Covid-19 test kits are on the way
Minister of Health Juan Carlos Zevallos says that an additional 200,000 Covid-19 kits should be available by Sunday and that 300,000 more should arrive next week. Under current testing capacity, he says that the number of tests will be sufficient in the next two three weeks. “The additional tests will allow us to expand monitoring, which will provide a better picture of the extent of the outbreak,” he said.
Stranded Ecuadorians beg to come home
As many as 4,000 Ecuadorians and legal residents are stranded in other countries by coronavirus restrictions, many of whom have asked the government to send flights to bring them home. According to the foreign ministry, the countries with the most Ecuadorians asking for repatriation are the U.S., Spain, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Peru and the UK. Ecuador Foreign Minister José Valencia says his office is working with foreign governments and airlines to bring citizens home but says the process could take two to three weeks. “Many have already been brought home but logistics for the others is often difficult since many of them are in small communities that are under lockdown orders,” he says.
Rural communities install block roads
Residents of some Tungurahua, Bolívar and Cotopaxi Province communities have blocked roads with rocks and logs to restrict the passage of cars from other locations. Although the action is illegal, national tranportation officials say they are only removing the obstacles if they block major highways.