Hospitals in Ecuador's capital overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections, doctors say

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QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s health system is under severe strain from a spike in coronavirus infections, doctors in the country’s capital said on Tuesday, adding that some Quito hospitals are working above capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.

Ecuador’s suffered a brutal outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020, primarily in the largest city of Guayaquil. Authorities controlled the situation after several months, but in recent weeks have seen cases jump in cities around the country.

“The saturation of the health system is not only in Quito but at the national level,” Dr. Victor Alvarez, president of the doctors association of the state of Pichincha, where Quito is located, told reporters. “Seeing images of patients lying on the ground, or perhaps on a military mattress, receiving oxygen in emergency units, that’s sad.”

In some Quito hospitals, entire families wait in emergency areas in hopes of being given a open bed, Dr. Edison Ramos, a coordinator at Carlos Andrade Marin hospital, said in an interview with a local television station.

Ecuador registered 2,201 new infections in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of cases to 327,325, according to official data. A total of 16,780 people either died from the disease or were suspected of having it but passed away before being diagnosed.

The government on Monday enacted new measures including a restriction on highway travel, the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages and the closure of beaches for the Easter holiday.

The national vaccination campaign has moved slowly and has been clouded by accusations of influence peddling.

The municipality of Guayaquil is asking President Lenin Moreno to allow it to impose a curfew to control infections.

“Believing that this is already over … is causing us to experience a situation almost at the risk of becoming that of last year,” said Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri told local media.

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