While COVID-19 news flow from South America has been somewhat uneventful during the pandemic, one country to keep an eye on for future developments of a possible outbreak is Ecuador.
A new report via The Guardian has revealed some pretty shocking statics of a massive death surge over the last several months in one province of the country.
On a six-week basis, starting on March 01, 10,939 people have died in Guayas province, which is well above the six-week average of 3,000 deaths, representing a near quadrupling. Most of the deaths are situated in the province's largest city, Guayaquil.
However, there is some conflicting data, considering on Sunday morning (April 18), Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 data shows a total of 9,022 confirmed cases and 456 deaths in the country.
The country's interior minister Maria Paula Romo told the Guardian that virus deaths in Ecuador are much higher than official government data is reporting.
"The number of deaths is totally out of the ordinary," Romo told the Guardian.
The swelling mortality in Guayaquil suggests the city's health care system is overstretched and is the reason why bodies have been dumped into the streets.
#Ecuador #Guayaquil #Coronavirus— Xy5Z89🇩🇪🇪🇺 (@Xy5Z89) April 18, 2020
Guayaquil is Ecuadors worst effected city of the virus. Many reports were share of dead corps rotting on the street and sidewalk...If you dont belive that watch this video from the city were by far the most infections in Ecuador are reported. pic.twitter.com/Ca0V1oDfCj
"We've wanted to be open about the statistics for deaths to show a more complete panorama," Romo said, adding that the full statistics would explain "why the funeral services and cemeteries simply could not cope in recent days in Guayaquil and Guayas."
VIDEO: #Coronavirus victims in coffins and body bags, together with stretchers and soiled bedding at rear of hospital in #Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second biggest city 🇪🇨 pic.twitter.com/pQahztMS8c #COVIDー19 #ChinaVirus #Ecuador #CoronavirusPandemic #EcuadorEnEmergencia #Wuhanvirus— Sam Pye (@freddie1999) April 3, 2020
This is a street in Ecuador.— Farhang F. Namdar (@FarhangNamdar) April 16, 2020
The body of a Corona victim in the style of apocalyptic movies is very tightly wrapped in nylon and duck tape and secretly left in a dark night on a non-commute pedestrian.#COVID19 #Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/CzibXHcLCD
The fast-spreading virus has stunned Guayaquil officials. Government agencies have been paralyzed as corpses continue to overwhelm the hospital system. Last week, the government handed out cardboard coffins to residents who needed corpses removed from their homes.
Despite stringent stay-at-home public health orders, the province as a whole, more specifically, Guayaquil, could be the next major hotspot of the virus outbreak in South America and should be closely monitored.
Guayaquil has a population of about 3 million. The country has only administered 30,000 coronavirus tests, which suggests the true extent of the outbreak is unknown.