VP warns of hard times ahead; Guayas named special ‘security zone’; No commercial flights, gov’t says; Ecuadorians worry about Spain

Mar 23, 2020 | 24 comments

Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner said Sunday that the next six to seven days will be especially difficult for the country. He said there will be a rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths and that the disease will directly affect many families. “We face hard days ahead and ask all Ecuadorians to understand and prepare for this,” he said, adding: “When we get through this period, we believe we will turn the corner on controlling this disease.”

Interior Minister María Paula Romo

Residents should continue to obey the shelter-in-place rule and leave their homes only when it’s necessary to purchase food, medicine or other essential items, Sonnenholzner said. “The compliance with the emergency health rules has been impressive but violations continue to occur,” he said. “We have made 668 arrests since the executive order went into effect and we will increase enforcement operations this week,” he said.

On Sunday, the governmernt reported 789 confrimed cases of the Covid-19 virus with 14 deaths. A total 872 cases are under observation.

Guayas Province designated ‘national security zone’
Interior Minister María Paula Romo announced Sunday night that due its high rate of Covid-19 infection, Guayas Province has been designated a “national security zone.” The designation allows the government to use the armed forces to enforce stay-at-home rules and curfews and to help with transportion of Covid-19 patients to medical facilities, she said. She added that more details about the security zone designation will be announced on Monday. Of Ecuador 789 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 607 are in Guayas Province, most of them in the city of Guayaquil.

There are no commercial flights in or out of Ecuador
There are no commercial airline flights entering are leaving Ecuador, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday. In a statement intended to dispel confusion, the ministry, said the flights operating from the Quito and Guayaquil airports are humanitarian charters and not available to the general public. “These are flights operated for the sole purpose of repatriating foreign citizens. The flights arrive empty, except for crew, and depart carrying citizens of European countries who have been booked through special arrangements. All scheduled commercial flights to Ecuador have been cancelled due to the coronavirus emergency and will not resume until further notice,” the statement said. The airlines involved in the humanitarian flights are Iberia, KLM and Air France, the ministry said.

Health crisis boosts internet usage by 30%
The Ecuador Association of Telecommunications Companies reports that internet usage in the country has surged by 30% as the Covid-19 heatlh emergency has forced residents to remain in their homes. The association says the increase is particularly high for streaming entertainment services, such as Netflix. Of Ecuador’s five million households, two million have fixed internet connections while there 9.3 million mobile accounts for smart phones and other devises.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President calls Sao Paulo governor a ‘lunatic’ for ordering quarantine
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has called Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria a “lunatic” for ordering a two-week quarantine of Brazil’s most populous state. Doria issued the order Saturday, claiming it was necessary to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. In an interview with CNN Brazil, Bolsonaro said that Doria was creating “unnecessary panic and hysteria” with his order and that the move was politically motivated. “This virus thing is overrated and it will go away,” Bolsonaro said. “What we don’t need are overreactions for political gain by stupid people.”

Ecuadorians worry about relatives in Spain
With more than half a million Ecuadorians living in Spain, relatives in Ecuador are watching anxiously as the coronavirus spreads rapidly in the European country. “After the U.S., Spain has the most Ecuadorian citizens living abroad and there is considerable concern as the cases and death toll rise in that country,” says San Francisco University professor Gustavo Muñoz, whose son lives in Valencia. “The World Health Organization said Saturday that Spain could face a fate similar to Italy’s due to the slow start of preparations.” As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain stood at 30,057 with a death toll of 1,876. WHO said that the death rate of more than six percent was second only to Italy among European nations reporting more than 10,000 Covid-19 cases.


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