Tuesday, April 20

Elections: Coronavirus infections soar in Ecuador, without affecting the date of the presidential elections | International


The candidate Guillermo Lasso greets a young woman in a campaign event, in Colta (Ecuador), on April 1.
The candidate Guillermo Lasso greets a young woman in a campaign event, in Colta (Ecuador), on April 1.RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP

The coronavirus has put Ecuador in front of the mirror of what happened in the country exactly one year ago: uncontrolled infections, excess deaths and hospitals without available intensive care beds. The risk management authorities and the president, Lenín Moreno, have reacted with a package of measures that revives the curfew from eight in the afternoon, teleworking in all public institutions and mobility restrictions, but only during one week. They will last until Friday at midnight so as not to affect the elections next Sunday, April 11, according to the state of emergency decree issued this Thursday.

“As the Ecuadorian State is in the electoral period, the need to address the seriousness of the health emergency in certain provinces of the country also implies the establishment and development of measures that allow the guarantee of participation rights,” includes the document signed by the President Moreno among the motivations to impose restrictions on citizens of eight provinces, including Pichincha and Guayas, the two most populated. The call to the polls will not change the date despite the incidence that, according to the authorities and medical criteria, the carnival bridge and the first electoral round of February 7 had at the peak of infections, due to the concentration of people in the beaches and at the polling stations.

Before those two events, intensive care beds were at an occupancy rate of 84%, which rose to 88% after March 24. In the Guayas and Pichincha hospitals, whose headquarters are Guayaquil and Pichincha, the cities with the largest population and the most problems of crowds and parties, the occupancy of beds exceeds 90% when receiving patients from neighboring territories. There is also a waiting list of 252 patients with covid-19 waiting for a place in the ICU. “All the ordinary control measures deployed in recent weeks are not sufficient for the effective control of contagion,” reads the decree, which states that the Civil Registry has reported an increase in deaths of 35.1%.

In nine days, the name of the future president of the country will be known in the tiebreaker between Andrés Arauz, the candidate sponsored by Rafael Correa, and Guillermo Lasso, the conservative politician who is on his third attempt to reach the Carondelet palace. Neither the pandemic nor the new wave of infections in the country have interrupted the promotional campaign of both, which, however, transferred part of their strategy to social networks from the beginning, where they have dispatched an intense cross-section of personal attacks. They have also launched part of their government proposals, as they have done in the last week with the vaccination plan against the coronavirus.

Andrés Arauz assures that, if he becomes president of Ecuador, he will immunize at a rate of two million vaccinated per month, while Guillermo Lasso speaks of 9 million Ecuadorians immunized in 100 days. As of March 29, the Ministry of Health had already placed the first dose against covid-19 in 182,329 Ecuadorians and the second injection in another 62,537, according to official figures, despite the fact that between March and April two were expected to arrive in the country. million doses.

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