President declares the Covid-19 pandemic over in Ecuador, says restrictions will be eliminated
In a Monday night, television interview, President Guillermo Lasso said that the Covid-19 pandemic has ended in Ecuador. “Thanks to the strong national response and the effectiveness or our vaccination campaign, we can finally declare that the pandemic is behind us,” he said. “I think we all look forward to pre-pandemic normality.”
Lasso said that the National Emergency Operations Committee will eliminate most Covid-related restrictions and requirements next week. “Masking and proof of vaccination will no longer be required but we will continue to be vigilant in case the public health is threatened again.”
In a Tuesday meeting following the president’s comments, the COE said it is revising pandemic health rules. “Most of them will be terminated or relaxed based on the analysis currently underway,” said committee President Juan Zapata.
In his report to the COE, Health Ministry Undersecretary Francisco Pérez said that only 336 cases of Covid-19 were reported last week, with almost all of them mild. “The strong downward trend that began in August is continuing,” he said. “We can say with confidence that the pandemic is controlled in Ecuador, the circulation of the virus is very low, as well as the levels of transmission.”
Pérez added that most cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 currently being observed are similar to the common cold. “We tend to forget that this is a coronavirus, which is the source for a large percentage of colds. It appears that the Omicron variants and sub-variants are part of the evolutionary process of Covid-19 becoming endemic, less severe and less dangerous.”
Director of the Health Ministry prevention office, Karla Flores, credited the country’s high rate of vaccination with improving conditions. “Almost 90% of Ecuadorians have received two doses and 50% have taken at least one booster,” she said. “The public response puts Ecuador among the top five countries in the Western Hemisphere for vaccination rates.”
Among pandemic requirements the COE may eliminate, is the one requiring travelers entering the country to show proof of vaccination or a PCR test. “Many countries are eliminating this rule and we are considering this as well,” said Zapata.