Coronavirus in Cotacachi, Ecuador
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May 06, 2020 Update
We Asked: What is currently happening with regard to the Coronavirus outbreak in your area? Please provide as much detail as possible. She replied...
There were a total of 4 Ecuadorians with mild cases of the virus diagnosed in the Canton during the first 2 weeks of the Lockdown. None hospitalized. Sent home with an antibiotic and told to rest, and get plenty of liquids. No Extranjeros have been diagnosed with illness. Extreme Lockdown since March 15, 2020. People can only be on the street 2 days a week from 5:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.. Your specific days are dependent on the last number of your cedula or passport. Cannot congregate or loiter in parks or on the street. Go directly to your destination and back home. Can only go out for food, to the pharmacy or an ATM. We have police stationed at the roads leading into town, to stop anyone from entering or leaving. This town of 9,000 people has 1 small supermarket open from 7:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. daily. We have to produce our cedula to be admitted, then get sprayed down with disinfectant, and wear mask and gloves. The Mercado, housed in a building, is open from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Only 6-8 people allowed in at a time. We must produce a cedula or passport and step into a basin of disinfectant before entering. We are discouraged from stopping to talk or visit with friends, can only really talk to the vendors and get out as quickly as possible. The first week or two of the Lockdown the supermarket and pharmacies were running out of supplies. We had about 2 weeks with no beef or pork available, and quite a few nearly bare shelves. The supply chain reorganized and since then, we have had nearly everything we need.
How People are Coping
We Asked: How are people handling the situation in your area? She replied...
Some people are handling it better than others. It seems there is now beginning to be some anger, resentment, and depression building because of the duration of a severe Lockdown and the fact no one here is sick! The small local hospital has been empty and the parking lot empty since the beginning of this Lockdown. Even though the President has allowed the Mayors of each Canton to ease up on some restrictions, the Mayor of Cotacachi will not ease up on anything. He is following the "Guayaquil Protocol", which is ridiculous given our healthy population. Lots of people are now beginning to stop on the street and chat with friends, but the parks are still blocked off. There is less of a police presence in town until about 1:30 p.m. when they are everywhere to make sure everyone is behind closed doors and barred gates by 2:00 p.m. It's a bit surreal.
Changing Conditions as coronavirus Spreads
We Asked: How has the situation changed as the Coronavirus has spread? She replied...
It hasn't changed at all in Cotacachi. Severe Lockdown for 7 weeks. No one here is sick!
We Asked: Describe how the government of the country about which you are reporting is handling this situation. She replied...
I understand that in places where there is a lot of illness, such as Guayaquil, that draconian measures need to be taken for a time, but there should be some leeway in areas of the country where the virus is nearly non-existant. But, that's my North American mind working. T.I.E. -- This Is Ecuador. Everything here is lock-step, like a military exercise of long duration. Ecuadorians never think outside the box. We are required to wear a mask when out of our homes. Gloves are not now required in Cotacachi. I don't know about the rest of the country. The curfew is strictly enforced in most areas.
Government Response with Regard to Expats
We Asked: Describe how your home country's government has handled the outbreak situation with regards to its expatriate citizens. She replied...
I'm from the USA and it appears from news reports that New York City is having a lot of various problems, and a few other major cities seem to be handling the situation. I'm from Texas and from what family and friends tell me the situation there is not bad and the Governor is handling everything with the common sense that Texans are known for. No one that I know has been infected and they all seem to have everything they need without the draconian measures that we in Cotacachi are living with. I think President Trump is doing a remarkable job with this pandemic, as he has been doing with the presidency in general. Trump has the vision to see beyond just the numbers of sick and dead. He has the ability to see the "whole picture" of the country and what is needed. I am once again proud to be an American.
Supplies and Shortages
We Asked: Is there a shortage of supplies in your location? She replied...
Not now. There was a shortage of some things, like beef, pork, and a few types of fresh fruits and vegetables the first 2 weeks of the Lockdown. Here in the north of Ecuador there was never a shortage of medical supplies because we have had relatively few cases compared to the southern part of the country.
Preparing for the Future
We Asked: What are you doing in terms of preparations in case the situation deteriorates in your location? She replied...
I can't imagine things getting worse as they are getting better in all of Ecuador. Things have been much better here in the north than down in the southern part of Ecuador In any event, I have stocked up on non-perishables, cleaning supplies, water and personal care items. I know lots of people, mostly Ecuadorians who have not and will not "stock up". They just do not believe things will get any worse. This part of Ecuador has a different "vibe" and mentality than much of the rest of the country. People here are generally very positive, laid back, and happy! That goes a long, long way to engender good health and wellness. And, more importantly, we have clean air, clean water, and clean food here in the northern Andes mountains. This is a very clean environment to begin with.
Lockdown & Passing the Time
We Asked: Are you staying home? If so, how are you passing the time?
We have to stay home! Just like being under House Arrest, but without an electronic ankle bacelet! I have many interests, so I don't do "bored". I love reading, needlework, photography, and gardening. My casita has a small patio garden with some remarkable flowers, so I not only get sunshine and exercise taking care of it, but there are lots of good photographs coming out of my garden. I am currently working on 2 different knitting projects, I have about 400 books on my Kindle I haven't yet read, and I enjoy doing research on topics that interest me. I have toyed with the idea of writing a book or two, so we'll see where that goes.
Public Healthcare & Public Hospitals
We Asked: Are you enrolled in the public healthcare system where you live? Do you feel that the public hospitals are handling or preparing for the Coronavirus outbreak effectively? She replied...
Yes, I am enrolled in IESS, the public health care system. Our hospitals here in the north have been well prepared, but haven't been overwhelmed in the least. The hospital here in Cotacachi has been empty the whole time. The larger hospital in Ibarra, 30 miles or so north of here has had some cases of the virus, but they have managed very well with no strain on the system. The private hospitals in Ibarra have been handling everything as normal with no exceptional cases that I know of.
Private Health Insurance & Private Hospitals
We Asked: Do you have private health insurance? If you have private insurance, does this give you access to private hospitals? Are private hospitals or clinics better prepared, less prepared, or the same? Please explain. She replied...
No, I do not have private insurance.
Hospital of Choice for Coronavirus Treatment
We Asked: Would you choose a public or private hospital if you needed treatment for Coronavirus? Why? If there is a specific hospital that you would go to in the event of severe illness? Which hospital and why? She replied...
The IESS hospital in Ibarra has some very fine doctors and I see no need for me to pay for a private hospital. My only experience with one of the most respected private hospitals in Ibarra was negative in that the cardiologist I had was woefully ignorant of modern procedures, and I even had to teach him how to properly take my blood pressure! Thankfully, he is no longer at that hospital.
We Asked: Are you considering returning to your home country due to the Coronavirus? Would this be a temporary move or a permanent repatriation? Please explain. She replied...
No. When I leave Ecuador it will be for a new adventure in a different country.
Advice for People Outside of Cotacachi, Ecuador
We Asked: If you live in an area already heavily affected by coronavirus, what advice would you share with others elswhere in the world who may be facing the same challenges in the future. She replied...
I live in one of the cleanest, healthiest places in Ecuador. We had negligable coronavirus here.
How Government is Treating Expats
We Asked: How is the government of the country where you are currently living treating expats during this time? Have there been any changes or extensions made in terms of residency and and other visa renewals, applications and requirements? Has access to public healthcare been eased? Please describe any types of changes (positive and negative) that are taking place. She replied...
No changes in the northern part of Ecuador. I don't know about the rest of the country. Expats generally treated well here. There has been no problem with access to public health care in this part of the country. We just need to end or ease up on some of these draconian security measures. We need our parks open! They are an integral part of social life, exercise, clean air and sunshine here. We need that to maintain good health!
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