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Inti Raymi solstice celebration goes virtual; Most cantons are yellow; Cuenca hospitals gets more ventilators; Fight against ‘fake news’

For the first time in hundreds of years, the public gatherings of the Andean solstice Inti Raymi celebration have been suspended. “The gods would have wanted it this way,” said Azuay Prefect Yaku Perez who has participated in Inti Raymi since he was child. “They want us to protect our health and to be safe and that’s why the festival has gone virtual this year.”

An Inti Raymi ceremony last year.

Although the area’s largest Inti Raymi celebrations, at Pumapungo, Ingapirca, and Cerro Narrío were canceled, several small celebrations were broadcast on the internet. A ceremony in the Cajas Mountains and traditional dance exhibitions were broadcast live Sunday via social media.

In Cañar Province, the 14th Corn Festival was presented Sunday on Facebook. Held at the Cojitambo Archaeological Complex, the online ceremony featured the indigenous solitice ceremony as well as song and dance.

Sunday’s Cajas festival, sponsored by the Azuay Prefecture, featured a purification bath at the Dos Chorreras waterfall and rituals performed by indigenous leaders.

Other Inti Raymi continue online through Monday, June 22.

Most of the country is under yellow light restrictions
The national Emegency Operations Committee reports that 177 of the country’s 211 muncipalities, or cantons, will be under yellow traffic health emergency restrictions on Monday. Most of the canton that remain red are in Manabí, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Zamora Chinchipe, Morona Santiago, Orellana and Sucumbíos provinces.

Cuenca cases are manageable, mayor say
Despite an increase Covid-19 cases in Cuenca, officials say that the community is able to manage the situation. “Our main concern remains hospital capacity for the most serious cases,” says Mayor Pedro Palacios. “Within the last week we added ten ventilators to our ICU unit at the [IESS] José Carrasco hospital and we also have open beds at the public hospital.” He said he expects the number of cases to continue to rise as the city reopens, partly because more tests are being administered. “We are depending on the public to help manage the crisis and, with a few expections, we are pleased with the effort.”

President hires PR firm to fight ‘fake news’
Communication Secretary to President Lenin Moreno, Gustavo Isch, announced Saturday that Ecuador has hired a public relations firm to fight “fake news.” Most of the misinformation relates to the Covid-19 epidmeic and is spread on social media but some is published by the mainstream media, Isch says. The Balsera Communication will monitor social media and well as electronic and print media to “locate and correct fake news that distorts the image of Ecuador,” according to Isch.

The government was particularly upset by news stories in April and May that described “hundreds of bodies” on the streets of Guayaquil. “There were never more than 10 or 12 bodies and they were not abandoned, as the press reported,” says Isch. He adds that photos and reports of the bodies were spread on social media.