President Lenin Moreno announced on Tuesday, May 5, that the ongoing state of emergency would be extended an additional 30 days past the current deadline of Saturday, May 16, due to the continued spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) nationwide. It will therefore remain in place until Monday, June 15.
On May 5, the Ministry of Health confirmed 31,881 COVID-19 cases and 1569 associated deaths. Investigative reporting, however, has shown that there are several thousand patients that have died in recent weeks in the country with no testing, which has the potential to significantly skew the true total number of cases nationwide. The source indicates that the death toll may be up to 15 times higher than that which is reported, noting an increase of 7600 additional deaths in Ecuador between Sunday, March 1, and Wednesday, April 15, compared to the year prior. The investigation also found that many who have died in homes and hospitals have not been counted as COVID-19 victims, with authorities often stating the cause of death as lung failure or other associated issues.
Individuals nationwide are permitted to leave home for essential goods and services exclusively. 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. All inter-province travel is prohibited, and face masks are required in public.
As of Monday, April 6, a nationwide vehicle rationing system is in place: License plates ending in 1 and 2 can circulate on Mondays. License plates ending in 3 and 4 can circulate on Tuesdays. License plates ending in 5 and 6 can circulate on Wednesday. License plates ending in 7 and 8 can circulate on Thursdays. License plates ending in 9 and 0 can circulate on Fridays. No private cars may circulate on Saturdays and Sundays.
Public gatherings and events are suspended through the end of May. Classes remain suspended. 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.
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.
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.
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