World Bank predicts slow economic growth; Ecuador considers ‘selective’ vaccine program; Cuenca Covid cases drop; Teachers object to lack of protection

Jan 6, 2021 | 8 comments

The World Bank predicts that Ecuador’s economy will grow by 3.5 percent in 2021. The expected growth follows a 9.5 percent GDP plunge in 2020.

The World Bank predicts a slow economic recovery for Ecuador.

The Bank says it expects all South American economies to grow in 2021 but calls the long-term outlook “guarded” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ecuador ranks third among the most affected economies in the region in 2020, behind Peru and Argentina, which fell 12 percent and 10.6 percent respectively.

The World Economic Perspectives report says it difficult to offer economic forecasts due to the “devastation and unpredictable outlook” of the pandemic. “It is a truly unprecedented event that has impacted the entire world and has taken a disproportionately heavy toll on Latin America,” the report says.

Ecuador pursues ‘selective’ vaccination program
Due to budget limitations and delivery concerns, Ecuador is considering a plan to vaccinate about 52 percent of population against Covid-19. Most of the inoculations would come in the second half of 2021 but some may be administered in early 2022, the Ministry of Health says. Under the plan, all health care and emergency responders would be vaccinated first with residents aged 50 to 65 suffering from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity to be in the second group. Following these groups, others older than 50 and all others with serious health conditions would be vaccinated.

Quito epidemiologist Alberto Narváez says the plan is based on a study by the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito that found that adequate heard immunity can be reached in Ecuador if 55 percent of the population is vaccinated.

Local Covid cases show slight drop
The Ministry of Health reports that new cases of the Covid-19 virus have dropped slightly over the last month. While there were 453 cases for the week of November 23 to 29 and 482 cases for the week of November 30 to December 6, there were 368 cases between December 28 and January 3.

The ministry reports that the public and IESS hospitals in Cuenca are at 90 percent capacity in their ICU units while private hospitals are at 58 percent.

Teachers want more Covid safeguards
The National Union of Educators is claiming that the health controls offered by the government do not provide sufficient protection against the Covid-19 virus. “We are expected to return to school January 18 but the health protocols suggested by the Ministry of Education do not meet the standards of the Ministry of Health,” says Isabel Vargas Torres, union president. “We are asking for a revision of the plan to keep teachers safe.”

Although teachers will be required to return to school on January 18, students will continue to be taught online until March, according to the current plan. The Education Ministry says there will be “progressive return” to the classroom for the remainder of the school year.