Minister of Health Juan Carlos Zevallos warned Thursday that he expects 20 percent of those who contract the Covid-19 virus will require hospitalization and six percent will require intensive care. “This estimate is based on what we have seen so far in Ecuador as well as the international profile,” he said.
The good news, Zevallos adds, is that about 40 percent of those infected will have no symptoms at all while 30 to 40 percent will experience symptoms that will not require hospitalization.
“Ecuador’s experience with the virus will be somewhat different than that of other countries and we are still trying to understand those differences,” Zevallos says. “We know that our virus is a variant of the one suffered in China, Spain and Italy. There are also local factors that will affect our experience including the fact that we have a much younger population than Italy, Spain and U.S.”
Although the fatality rate is higher with older victims and those with compromised immune systems, Zevallos says that Ecuador has seen a high hospitalization rate for those aged 30 to 50. “This follows patterns in Spain and France which is very concerning to health experts. In Ecuador, the vast majority of younger cases appear to be recovering but this could change,” he said.
On Wednesday, Zevallos said that most of the world’s population will be infected with the coronavirus before a vaccine is available. He added that social distancing will not change the numbers but will extend the period of infection, reducing the burden on the health system. Various models of the epidemic predict that 40 to 70 percent of the population will eventually become infected.
Deputy Minister of Health Ernesto Carrasco said Thursday that Ecuador’s fatality rate from Covid-19 is 3.7 percent but expects that to drop as more tests are conducted. “We are doing well in comparison to other counties in terms of death rate,” he says. “Worldwide, the rate is 5.2 percent while it is 12 percent in Italy and 9 percent in Spain. The U.S. is doing better, at 2.5 percent, but like us, they are in the early stages of their outbreak.”
On Thursday, Ecuador had 3,163 confirmed cases with 120 deaths, almost 70 percent of them in Guayas Province. There are 84 cases in Cuenca, with 24 of those patients hospitalized.
Guayaquil sees panic buying ahead of possible curfew extension
Supermarkets in Guayaquil were a mob scene Thursday morning due to speculation that a 24-hour weekend curfew would be imposed. Guayas Province Governor Pedro Pablo Duart has asked the government for the extended curfew to combat Ecuador’s largest coronavirus outbreak. Waits were as long as two hours Thursday at several Guayaquil Supermaxis and police were called to two locations as some customers attempted to rush the doors. Interior Minister María Paula Romo said the emergency operations committee is considering Duart’s request and will make a decision Friday or Saturday.
Cuenca police fine more than 1,000 restriction violators
National and transit police say they have issued 1,243 fines for various violations of the national health emergency within the last week in Cuenca. In addition, 157 arrest have been made for curfew violations. Police have issued 387 fines for unauthorized use of private vehicles and have confiscated 23 vehicles for violating the curfew. In addition, hundreds of fines have been issued to those conducting business in violation of the ban on face-to-face interactions for commercial purposes.
Gov’t removes 30 to 150 bodies a day in Guayaquil
Military personnel, working with the Ministry of Health, have removed between 30 and 150 bodies a day from Guayaquil residences since Monday. Government intervention is necessary, the ministry says, because most funeral homes in the city are closed due to coronavirus restrictions. According to army task force commander Jorge Wated, a large burial ground is being prepared to receive the dead in an undisclosed location in the city and should be completed by Monday. The ministry says it is unable to determine how many of the diseased were victims of Covid-19 but estimates a third are virus victims.
Quito asks for more vehicle restrictions
Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda is asking the government for permission to restrict use of private vehicles to one day a week instead of the current two. He says the move is necessary to relieve traffic as well as to keep residents at home. “There are far too many cars on the streets and this impedes essential deliveries and exposes more people to the virus.” The Emergency Operations Committee says it has taken the request under consideration and will make a decision soon. Interior Minister María Paula Romo said Thursday that further restrictions on vehicle use are being considered nationwide.