Vaccine rule for Galapagos visitors eliminated; Lasso promises booster shots, praises country’s high vaccine rate; College students demand more funding

Sep 10, 2021 | 21 comments

The requirement that travelers to the Galapagos Islands present proof of vaccination against the Covid-19 virus has been eliminated. Beginning Saturday, September 11, entry will require only a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

University students protested Thursday in Cuenca, claiming that the funding proposed for higher education is not enough.

The National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) said it eliminated the vaccine requirement following complaints from Galapagos Island tourism representatives and discussions with a panel of epidemiologist who consult with the Ministry of Health.

“After talking with experts as well as business interests in the Galapagos, we have decided that the vaccine certificate should not be required for admission,” a COE statement said. “The population in the islands is 99 percent vaccinated and at low risk of infection.”

The rule requiring both the vaccine and PCR test was short-lived, being adopted last month before the recent decline in new infections on the Ecuadorian mainland.

Lasso promises boosters, says Ecuador is 3rd in the Americas for vaccines
President Guillermo Lasso said Thursday that Covid-19 booster vaccines will be available to the public in January. He made the announcement in comments praising the country’s vaccination program that exceeded his goal of vaccinating nine million residents in 100 days.

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“The program has been the largest logistical mobilization in recent history and today we rank third in all of the Americas for the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated,” he said. “We have achieved this through a program of aggressive vaccine diplomacy and we owe a great debt of gratitude to China, the U.S., Russia, Spain and Canada for our success.”

Lasso said 75 percent of Ecuadorians above the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, adding that the number is probably higher since results of the program to vaccinate students aged 12 to 16 have not yet been reported. “By the end of year we should reach an 85 percent vaccination rate and very possibly higher.”

University students march for more funding
University students and teachers marched through the streets of Cuenca and Quito Thursday, demanding that the government increase funding for higher education. In the government’s proposed 2022 budget, the country’s public universities are scheduled to receive the same level of funding as they did in 2021, down more than five percent from pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

“The government has pledged to improve university quality but has not provided the money for this to happen,” the Federation of University Students of Ecuador said in press release. “Our system is essentially on life support. We acknowledge that the country faces an economic crisis but one way to overcome this is by providing a higher level of education to its university students.”

Mauricio Chiluisa, federation president, said her organization will take their case to the National Assembly. “It is our hope that they will recognize the importance of universities in the national life, whereas the president does not.”

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