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Ecuador returns to mandatory masking, citing flu


Ecuador’s National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) announced on Friday that it would reinstate a nationwide indoor mask mandate, citing the spread of the Chinese coronavirus and influenza.

Public health officials in the country noted that they had not documented a significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths from the Chinese coronavirus before reinstating the mandate, which covers classrooms, public transport, offices and hospitals, among other overcrowded areas. Ecuadorian Health Minister José Ruales stressed that the rapid spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses had been taken into account when reimposing restrictions.

The South American nation reinstated the restriction after months of the vast majority of governments around the world lifting many of the civil rights restrictions, lockdowns and other mandates associated with the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps most importantly, the Chinese Communist Party announced this week – following an eruption of civil unrest in almost every major city in the country – that it would begin allowing some people who test positive for the virus to avoid to be imprisoned in quarantine camps and to refocus efforts away from lockdowns and to pressure citizens to get vaccinated.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso wears the presidential sash after his inauguration ceremony in front of the National Assembly in Quito, Ecuador, Monday, May 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

from Ecuador Trade reported Friday that conservative President Guillermo Lasso lifted all mask mandates on April 28, announcing that the local Chinese coronavirus outbreak was under control and celebrating record rates of citizens ingesting Chinese coronavirus vaccine products. The Ecuadorian government has approved five coronavirus vaccines for general use: two Chinese products from the companies Sinovac and CanSino, the Russian product Sputnik V, the European product AstraZeneca and the Chinese-American mRNA product Pfizer.

Meeting this week, the COE and the Ecuadorian Minister of Health agreed to impose a mandate “for all citizens to use the mask compulsorily in closed spaces, poorly ventilated spaces and where social distancing is not possible” . Trade relayed. The COE also recommended the use of sanitary masks outdoors in general, not just in crowded areas.

Of note in the announcement of new coronavirus protocols is the fact that Ruales, the Minister of Health, admitted that public health officials had documented no increase in coronavirus-related deaths and only a minor increase hospitalizations. Severe cases of the flu, a family of viruses whose infections humans have dealt with for hundreds of years, were taken into consideration when reimposing the mask mandate.

“Although earlier this year most serious infections were caused by [Chinese coronavirus] as a diagnosis, now the majority of patients, around 80%, have AH3N2 flu,” Argentine news outlet Infobae said, paraphrasing Ruales. “The most affected are children between 5 and 11 years old and seniors.”

Trade relayed that Ruales and WCC officials were documenting an increase in flu cases that appeared to be linked to the easing of coronavirus restrictions since April.

“During the last two years of the pandemic, with biosecurity measures, isolation and the use of masks, the population has not been the most affected and there has been a decrease in these [respiratory] diseases,” Trade observed. “Currently, with the return to ‘normality’ and the easing of measures, an increase in respiratory diseases is again documented, as had happened in the years preceding the pandemic.”

In Quito, the return of a mask mandate also meant the return of street vendors selling sanitary masks to commuters on public transport who had forgotten theirs at home or had run out. Seller, the universe documented, sold around 200 masks during the morning commute to the capital on Friday from around 5:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

Local authorities deployed police at transit stations to ensure commuters were masked. The Ecuadorian newspaper noted, quoting a senior security coordinator, that officers were instructed to not only ensure commuters work with masks, but wear them correctly, covering their mouths and noses. .

Ecuador is among the minority of countries reviving pandemic civil rights restrictions in 2022 and is the only one to cite an unrelated virus as part of the rationale for the move. In the United States, some local governments have considered reinstating mask mandates and urged the use of masks on children, despite scientific evidence that lip reading is essential for children to develop their language skills. In Los Angeles, public health officials last week considered the possibility of reinstating a government mask mandate on the grounds that the number of documented coronavirus cases had increased. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week that if the number of cases reaches an official “high” designation, the county would reinstate the mask mandate.

In New York, as in Ecuador, Governor Kathy Hochul redirected Chinese coronavirus concerns to another pathogen in October, advising parents to consider masking toddlers to avoid respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. ).

“Now children are more socialized to the idea of ​​wearing a mask. It’s not as strange to them, it’s not like, ‘What is it?’ “, Hochul said, adding that “there are a lot of cute masks out there.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.



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