GringoPost | Ecuador: Saturation of Cuenca ICU Beds - PCR testing for airport arrivals

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Saturation of Cuenca ICU Beds - PCR testing for airport arrivals

On Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th editions of El Mercurio, there were articles announcing several new government measures.

On Saturday the 16th the emergency operations committee for the canton of Cuenca announced another week of "red" flag status for Cuenca, to at least May 24th. This decision was driven principally by concern for the saturation of ICU beds in Cuenca's public hospitals, which are at 100% capacity, and have seen an increase of 43% in hospital in-patients with coronavirus. The breakdown of hospitalized patients is: 55.9% are between the ages of 20 and 49, those between age 50-64 are 24.8% of hospitalized coronavirus patients, and the remainder are age 65 or older (approximately 19%). 56% are male and 44% are women.

The federal government also approved pilot projects for the commercial sector of Cuenca to initiate operating again, as requested by the local emergency operations committee.

In a separate article from Sunday the 17th, Minister Paula Romo announced that the federal emergency operations committee has decided that as of midnight on Thursday May 21, 2020 all persons traveling to Ecuador will need to furnish a PCR test result showing a negative result done no later than 72 hours before boarding the aircraft.

The minister added that this new requirement came about because of two passengers who arrived in Ecuador from New York not only knowing that they were positive for coronavirus but having abandoned their hospitalization in New York in order to travel to Ecuador.

In the meantime, all arrivals will be subjected to a rapid PCR test at the airport to determine their coronavirus status.

[Ann's observations: not sure how smoothly the implementation of this is going to go, given the difficulty of getting a PCR test in many places, much less within 72 hours of your departure to Ecuador.

And there are many unanswered questions: what happens if your flight is delayed or rescheduled (say due to weather or mechanical problems) and your test is no longer inside the 72 hour window? What if you cannot get a PCR test or the test results within the 72 hour window needed to travel to Ecuador? Will airlines deny boarding to people who don't have a PCR test done within the 72 hour window? How will stopovers be handled if say you have a 23 hour layover in Panama City or Mexico City?

Additionally, I have read in Cuenca newspapers (don't have the link) that the airports will be opening on June 1st, including Cuenca's airport. Not sure if international flights will be resuming on June 1st or if it's just domestic flights within Ecuador that will be resuming. It's also not clear whether, when international flights resume, there will still be a 14 day quarantine or not, given this new testing plan for travelers. I suspect it may depend upon how workable the PCR testing requirement is for airports and airlines.]

Ann Fourt:

City: Cuenca