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Number Of New Deaths Falls, But Hospitalizations Are Second Highest Since Pandemic Began

Published on March 16, 2021

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After one week, the Ministry of Health has decided to discontinue providing an Appendix that was meant to provide further insight into the daily Infographic Report.

As we pointed out last week, there was little in the sense of new or valuable information in the Appendix provided.

Two data points they did provide are worth following: the cumulative incidence rate in the number of new cases—by province—and the increase in the rate of tests completed.

In fact, all of these figures are illustrated in our “COVID-19 TEST RESULTS IN ECUADOR” spreadsheet.

The most important point made in the Appendix last week is that the number of new cases and deaths continue to rise, and they are primarily caused by family/community transmission.

Tracking the spread and outcome of the coronavirus in Ecuador: Updated for Tuesday, March 16, 2021

This week there are several positive notes to point out and a few disappointing figures to discuss. Let’s discuss the most negative point first.

This past Sunday, there were 1,458 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the country. This is the second highest number of hospitalized patients since the pandemic began. And it comes only 12 weeks after the most recent low of 768 hospitalized patients reported on December 13, 2020.

Just as disturbing is that 519 of those patients are in the ICU, also well off the low of 335 reported on December 13th.

These figures illustrate that Ecuador is definitely in the “second wave” of the pandemic.

On a positive note, this week there were overall decreases in the number of new deaths, new cases, and the rate of new deaths and new cases versus last week. There were six (6) provinces, however, that had a significant increase in the number of new deaths. Only one (1) province had a significant increase in new cases.

We must point out however, that rate of new samples collected, and tests completed both fell. And in conjunction with that, the rate of backlogged tests increased dramatically (in a week when sample collection fell).

We still struggle to understand why the government cannot manage to get its testing program in order. It should not be difficult to increase the number of samples collected and the number of tests run—this has been in place for a year, there is no longer a learning curve.

ECUADOR’S VACCINATION PLAN

The Ministry of Public Health announced that Phase 1 of vaccination against the coronavirus has begun and that the online platform for citizens to register for an appointment to be vaccinated has been launched. However, the site—www.planvacunarse.ec—has experienced serious problems and for now is simply placing people in an online “waiting room” while trying to register.

In Phase 1 of the vaccination plan, the government is planning to vaccinate approximately two million people, of which 57% are seniors.

In Phase 1, the vaccination of the following groups is planned:

  • Health personnel (not included in phase 0) from the entire public and private network
  • Police and Public Force
  • Teachers
  • Vulnerable population (not defined)
  • People of the Third Age (this generally means 65 and over)
  • Waste collection staff
  • Personnel from strategic sectors (attention to public services, justice, complementary security, and others)

Following the completion of Phase 1, Phase 2 will begin and is focused on the population over 18 years. This phase, like Phase 1, will have an enrollment process. That database will be analyzed by the Ministry of Health who will verify that people who have enrolled have not had COVID-19, or that they have not been included in previous lists. Once the requirements are approved, an appointment will be scheduled for the application of the vaccine.

Phase 3, which includes those who were left out of the early stages of the plan, will also have an enrollment process.

Ecuador has allocated a fund of $200 million dollars for the acquisition of vaccines and currently has signed contracts for 20 million doses to be received by the end of 2021, which is expected to meet the goal of vaccinating 60% of the population this year.

THE NUMBERS

While we feel that the positivity rate is the most important number to follow, there is still value in tracking the number of new cases, new deaths, hospitals admissions and ICU census.

With regard to the number of cases, the numbers this week are a little better than last week.

The number of new deaths also fell significantly this week (decreasing by about 15.7%) and the number of provinces that saw an increase in the rate of new deaths fell from ten (10) last week to eight (8) this week.

New Cases

Like last week, only five (5) provinces saw an increase in the number of new cases. As we said last week, the fall in sample collection and test completion plays a role in this decrease

There were 7,718 new positive cases this week versus 8,348 last week.

As usual, the province with the highest increase in new cases was Pichincha, which went from 102,322 cases last week to 104,374 cases this week, or 2,052 new cases.

On a percentage examination, Bolivar saw the greatest increase in new cases this week, with a 5.12% increase in total cases (going from 4,103 cases to 4,313 cases).

The positivity rate fell slightly going from 29.98% to 29.85%.

New Deaths

Eight (8) provinces reported an increase in the rate of new deaths this week (versus 10 last week), six (6) of which were significant increases.

The number of new deaths across the country did fall this week going from 16,039 to 16,236, with 197 new cases (versus 228 last week).

Pichincha had the most deaths this week with 53; Manabi reported 46 new deaths. Loja had the highest increase in deaths as a percentage, reporting a 4.46% increase.

Only one (1) province had no deaths this week, versus four (4) for the last two weeks.

Hospitalizations

As we said above, the number of hospitalized patients rose this week, to the second highest number since the pandemic began.

It’s important to note that 197 patients died, and the number of patients hospitalized rose by 92. Also, the number of ICU patients rose by 3.

Provincial numbers

As is clear to see in the accompanying charts and graphics, there is a mixture of good and bad news to report. To summarize:

  • Only one (1) province reported no new deaths this week,
  • Nineteen (19) provinces saw a decrease in the rate of new cases (11 of them significantly),
  • Sixteen (16) provinces saw a decrease in the rate of new deaths (8 significantly),
  • The overall rate of new deaths fell,
  • The rate of new sample collection fell,
  • The rate of test completion fell,
  • The number of backlogged tests increased,
  • The rate of discharge fell.

TESTING

Compared to the rest of South America, Ecuador’s testing program is a failure

Ecuador continues to lag behind all of South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela) in the percentage of population tested and the number of tests given per million residents.

Based on the Ecuadorian Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) population projections, Ecuador has only tested about 6.00% of its population. With 1,069,693 tests completed, Ecuador has tested 59,992/1 million people, or 149th out of 215 countries tracked worldwide. This is dismal when compared to Ecuador’s direct neighbors.

Its neighbors Colombia, Peru and Chile (who’s population is size is closest to Ecuador at 19.18 million people) have tested 23.45%, 25.02% and 52.98% of their populations, respectively.

Colombia has tested 234,492/1 million people and ranks 97th on the list. Peru has tested 250,181/1 million people and ranks 94th on the list. Chile has tested 529,820/1 million people and ranks 54th on the list.

[Chile only has 8.1% more people than Ecuador but has tested 9.53 times more people!]

Even Venezuela, who’s economy is considered to be in the worse shape in South America, has tested 10.59% of its 28.4 million people. Argentina, who also has serious economic issues, has tested 17.66% of its 45.5 million citizens.

GRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Here is a quick review of the graphical highlights below (as of Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 8:00AM):

  • 16,236 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.
  • 1,068,530 test samples have been collected.
  • 302,221 tests have returned positive (+).
  • 710,256 tests have returned negative (-).
  • 7% of the deaths have been among the ages 20 to 49 years old.
  • 3% of the deaths have been among the ages 50 to 64 years old.
  • Only 12.8% of the deaths have been among the ages 65 years and older.
  • 1% of cases have been on males, 47.9% in females.
  • Guayas province accounts for 12.8% of confirmed cases (38,570) and 23.52% of the confirmed deaths (3,819).
  • Pichincha province accounts for 34.5% of confirmed cases (104,374) and 16.73% of the confirmed deaths (2,717).
  • Azuay province accounts for at 6.0% of confirmed cases (18,122) and 2.15% of the confirmed deaths (349).

HOW ACCURATE ARE THE NUMBERS?

The numbers from the government are only “accurate” as historical references, since they cannot guarantee that tests completed this week are from samples collected over the last seven days.

However, the graphic accompanying this article (it is provided by the government, but has been modified for easier readability), does offer some recent graphical dated information on four provinces, and at a national level.

The numbers and statistics below are based on all case data collected by the government as of 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 14, 2021. More detail of all of the numbers is available in the graphics that follow.

The numbers in the graphic reflect the number of people who tested positive or negative for the virus, with both the polymerise chain reaction or (PCR) test which looks for antigens and identifies the presence of the virus in the body, and the “Rapid” test which looks for antibodies to the virus and identifies a person’s immune response to the virus. The PCR test gives an earlier identification of those who have been infected by the coronavirus and whether they have an active infection. Ecuador is now only reporting new PCR test results (however, prior Rapid tests are included in its report).

These numbers do not reflect the actual total number of people infected across the country or the number of deaths that can be attributed to COVID-19. The dates on the graphic are also adjusted back to when symptoms began, not when the positive test occurred.

For those who want a deeper level of information for a particular town or city, see: https://www.gestionderiesgos.gob.ec/coe-nacional/

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