Local media sources have reported oversaturation throughout the Guayaquil hospital network as of Wednesday, April 1, amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Ecuador. Guayaquil is the most severely affected city in the country, and an estimated 500 to 1000 patients have been presenting themselves at the Los Ceibos hospital, as well as at other hospitals, for testing. Such high volumes have stressed the system.
While 2700 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported nationwide, municipal officials in Guayaquil state that 400 bodies have been recovered in recent days. While it is unconfirmed whether the deaths are linked to COVID-19, it highlights the lack of testing being conducted in the city.
A nightly curfew is in place, from 14:00 (local time) until 05:00 nationwide. Those that do not abide by the policy will face a USD 100 fine. Repeat offenders will face prison time.
All international arrivals to Ecuador by air were suspended and all foreign nationals have been barred from entering the country at any of its air, land, or sea border crossings since Sunday, March 15. All Ecuadorean nationals have been barred from returning to Ecuador since Monday, March 16, at 23:59. Vice President Sonnenholzner also announced a ban on public gatherings of more than 30 people, including religious processions during Holy Week. Other public areas such as gyms, cinemas, theaters, and other entertainment venues are subject to restrictions. The Yasuní National Park has also been closed to all tourists.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses remain open. Restaurants are open as well, though only for take-out service.
Further spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.