The Galapagos islands were declared free of COVID-19
THURSDAY MAY 28, 2020
As I live here in Puerto Ayora, I was able to attend the visit of the vice president of the Republic, Otto Sonnenholzner who issued this following statement.
The islands Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal, in the Galapagos, are the first counties of Ecuador free of COVID-19, according to
During his visit, vicepresidetn Sonnenholzner evaluated the health system and promoted actions for the productive revival of the local economy. He was at the Oskar Jandl General Hospital in San Cristóbal, where he found that the service is adequately provided to citizens and that the staff has what it takes to continue facing the pandemic and we have noted improvements.”
vice-president, Otto Sonnenholzner (2nd from left).
The vice-president also provided rapid tests, protective equipment, masks, and medications. He stressed that “the health emergency has been adequately managed. San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz are already free of the virus”. He also for his part, confirmed that “the decisions taken have allowed there to be no community contagion.”
However, the vice-president explained that “although the impact of the disease is not as great as in other provinces, it does not mean that the emergency is over.” In Santa Cruz, they visited the “El Camote” Isolation Center with 10 beds for outpatients and 6 in ICU. Here, a donation of a biosafety chamber for air and sea transfers was made.
Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Zevallos, Minister of Health congratulated the work carried out by doctors and nurses “it is time to think ahead with long-term investment and trained personnel residing in this area, we are going to continue working on this issue.”
Galapagos Best INPUT:
The community in Galapagos has been torn over the conflicting desires to i) control COVID-19 in this very remote part of the world with poor access to medical services and ii) get back to hosting tourists, the very foundation of the islands’ economy. The success in having controlled COVID-19 is worth celebrating, and will go a long way in reassuring potential tourists that Galapagos is a COVID-19 safe destination…. but what of the tourists themselves? How can Galapagos residents be sure that the virus will not be re-introduced through infected visitors? If COVID-19 re-emerges in the islands, all the work done to date may have been wasted.
Recent announcements by the national government indicated that any foreign visitor to Ecuador will have to take a specific test for COVID-19 no more than 3 days prior to their arrival in Ecuador, and that the test will need to be negative, for them to be allowed in the country.
Some are proposing the opening of Galapagos airports to international flights (currently only domestic flights serve Galapagos) as a way to avoid exposing incoming visitors to COVID-19 on the continent. But that does not address the risk of having COVID-19 infected visitors arriving in the islands.