Researchers dispute health ministry claim that Covid is ‘under control’; COE asks for health emergency extension; Santa Elena’s fatality rate

Aug 14, 2020 | 12 comments

Several health researchers are disputing the claim by Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos that the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

Minister of Health, Juan Carlos Zevallos

Daniel Simancas, research director at the Center for Public Health and Epidemiology Research at Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, says that Zevallos’ claim of containment is “reckless” and could lead to a false sense of security.

“It is true that we have reached a plateau in the pandemic curve but we are far from having it under control,” Simancas says. “Dr. Zevallos has missed almost all the projections he had made regarding the development and trajectory of the virus and many of us in the health professions worry that the government is not responding appropriately to the situation.”

Simancas added that Ecuador is in a “long war” and that the fight against Covid will continue for many more months. “I hear frequent statements from the minister and other government officials that Ecuador is doing much better than Colombia and Peru but this does not mean we can relax our efforts. The pandemic arrived earlier in Ecuador and we are further along in its progression, but we must not lose sight of its deadliness.”

National COE requests extension of health emergency
The national Emergency Operations Committee is asking President Lenin Moreno to extend the national state of emergency for the Covid-19 pandemic. The current emergency declaration, issued June 16, is set to expire August 14.

A man is tested in Cuenca for Covid-19.

Juan Zapata, COE member and director of Ecuador’s ECU 911 emergency response system, said that a new declaration, for either 30 or 60 days, is needed to continue the campaign to control coronavirus infections. “The contagion continues and we must maintain our ability to combat it through restrictions on mobility, social distancing and other activities that endanger the public health,” he said. “It will be impossible to contain the spread of the virus without a new emergency declaration.”

Zapata said that after Moreno issues a new emergency declaration, the COE will consider extending special restrictions, including the extension of the curfew and a prohibition of weekend liquor sales, in 18 provinces. He added that those restrictions expire with the current state of emergency.

Santa Elena Province has country’s highest fatality rate
Although the focus of Ecuador’s Covid-19 outbreak has focused on the most populous provinces, particularly Guayas and Pichincha, several smaller provinces have higher fatality rates. According to the ministry of health, coastal Santa Elena leads the country in the number of deaths per confirmed tests. As of August 12, the province had more than 600 confirmed or probable deaths due to Covid from a total of 1,172 confirmed cases. The ministry admits that there are many more cases than those confirmed.


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