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16 Apr 2020 | 12:50 PM UTC

Ecuador: COVID-19 cases and death toll rise, particularly in Guayaquil April 16 /update 6

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ecuador rise to 7858, including 4060 in the capital of Guayaquil as of April 16; further spread of the virus expected over the near term

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Event

As of Thursday, April 16, Ecuadorian officials have confirmed 7858 cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including 4060 in the capital of Guayaquil alone, which has become the most affected city in the country. Authorities in the regions with the most cases have been struggling to cope with the collection of dead bodies; President Lenin Moreno has stated that the actual number of COVID-19-related deaths is much higher than the 388 that have been officially recorded.

As of Monday, April 13, a tiered movement restriction scheme was rolled out by province based on the number of COVID-19 cases, in which each province will be labeled as either green, yellow, or red. The measures will be implemented in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 nationwide. Each color will have a set of associated restrictions, which will outline movement restrictions in each province. Should the situation persist as at present, the Guayas, Pichincha, Los Ríos, Azuay, Manabí, Cañar, and El Oro provinces will be classified as red. Authorities will likely publish a comprehensive list of the colors assigned to each province days prior to its implementation.

Public gatherings and events are suspended through the end of May. Classes are suspended through the end of April, as are inter-provincial transport and international travel. All international arrivals to Ecuador by air were suspended and all foreign nationals have been barred from entering the country via 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.

A nightly curfew is in place, from 14:00 until 05:00 (local time) nationwide. Those that do not abide by the policy will face a fine of USD 100. Repeat offenders will face prison time.

Other public areas such as gyms, cinemas, theaters, and other entertainment venues are subject to restrictions. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses remain open. Restaurants are open as well, though only for take-out service.

Further international spread of the virus to be expected over the near term.

Context

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.

Advice

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.