WHO pushes Latin America regional approach to fight Covid-19; Three more cases in Ecuador; Border checks; Tourism concerns

Mar 5, 2020 | 7 comments

The World Health Organization is urging Latin American countries to develop regional plans to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. “To date, the region has far fewer known cases of the virus than other areas of the world, including North America, and a unified plan will enhance containment,” says WHO Latin American coordinator Juan Estrella.

Travelers entering Ecuador from Peru are tested for the coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, there were 23 reported cases in Latin America, including 10 in Ecuador, while the U.S. alone has more than 150.

WHO is recommending that Latin America coordinate public information campaigns emphasizing hygiene and develop early detection protocol to slow the spread of the virus. It also recommends that health agencies make care distinctions between mild and more serious cases to conserve resources.

On Wednesday, WHO representatives shuttled between Latin American capitals to promote the plan.

Three new cases in Ecuador
Ecuador’s Ministry of Health announced Wednesday that three more cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Ecuador, bringing the country total to 10. The ministry said the new cases, like six earlier ones, were all related to a 71-year-old woman who arrived by air in Guayaquil from Madrid on February 14. The woman remains in critical condition in a Guayaquil hospital while the other nine victims have mild symptoms and are being treated in their homes in Guayaquil and Babahoyo.

Travelers are checked at the Peru border
Travelers entering Ecuador by car and bus are undergoing Covid-19 screenings at the border with Peru, the health ministry reports. The screenings include temperature checks with infrared thermometers, a series of questions asked by health agents and visual observation. In addition, agents provide information to travelers about hygiene protocols, including hand washing and the avoidance of crowds. The screenings are currently being carried out at the Huaquillas border crossing and plans are to install the checks at two smaller crossings.

Cuenca tourism industry prepares for slow-down
Cuenca hotels, restaurants, tour agencies and guides say they expect a reduction in tourism due to the coronavirus. The Ministry of Tourism and the Cuenca Tourism Foundation say a reduction in the number of out-of-town arrivals is inevitable. “This is an international problem and we understand it could reach crisis proportions,” the city tourism office said. “We hope for the best but must prepare for the worst.”

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