The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) confirms the position of Ecuador’s Health Ministry that Covid-19 infections and deaths has reached a plateau in the country and that the situation is improving in most areas.
According to PAHO, deaths have held steady since late May, with an average daily count of 33 officially reported. “There are many more than those officially registered, which is acknowledged by the ministry, but the statistics provide reliable evidence that the rates have held steady for almost four months,” PAHO director says Ciro Ugarte. “Like many other countries in the region, Ecuador is hampered by a low of number of test results so we are left to extrapolate conditions based on this data.”
As of September 11, the country had administered about 400,000 tests, reporting 122,000 infections and 11,000 confirmed and probable deaths. The PAHO says the high number of infections and deaths in relation to total tests is due to the fact that most of those tested are already ill and show symptoms of the virus.
Ugarte said that the country’s largest outbreaks, in Quito and Guayaquil, have been contained with numbers of infections and deaths dropping dramatically. “This is good news and suggests success in containment efforts as well as a growing level of herd immunity.”
The PAHO reports that Ecuador is following Covid-19 trends in other Latin American countries, with 63 percent of hospitalizations and deaths occurring among those 65 and older, with most deaths involving complicating health factors such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. “Of the deaths among those younger than 65, about 30 percent also involved other health problems,” the PAHO report said. It added that men are more susceptible to the disease, registering 55 percent of all deaths.
According to Ugarte, many of the excess deaths during the pandemic, are due to a reluctance of the sick to seek medical care. “There is fear of contracting the virus at hospitals and clinics and many Ecuadorians postpone seeing medical treatment until it is too late,” he said. “This includes those who have Covid and those with other conditions.”
He agreed with the ministry estimate that a majority of excess deaths are from causes other than Covid.
“Considering the challenges to its health care system, Ecuador is doing reasonably well with its treatment and containment efforts,” Ugarte said. “The good news is that since the pandemic reached Ecuador earlier than most other South American countries, it is leading the way to recovery.”