An 8.8 ton shipment of medical aid from Direct Relief is en route to Quito, Ecuador, representing the largest charitable delivery by Direct Relief to South America in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The supplies on tomorrow’s flight from Miami to Quito, which are valued at $2.8 million, include seven ICU kits, 90 oxygen concentrators, and basic supplies and medicines for both Covid-19 and general medical care.
On May 22, the World Health Organization declared that South America had emerged the latest epicenter of the pandemic, adding to previous WHO-designated epicenters in China, Europe, and the United States.
While Brazil, Peru and Chile account for the majority of confirmed cases in the region, Ecuador is also battling a severe outbreak, with at least 39,098 confirmed cases and at least 3,358 deaths, according to WHO. Authorities believe another 1,700 deaths may be related to Covid-19, according to an AFP report.
In response to the critical situation, the Ecuadorian government imposed a strict, nationwide curfew on March 17 that is now in effect between 2 p.m. and 5 a.m. and will be changed tomorrow to 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Additionally, residents are permitted to drive only one day per week.
In Ecuador, like much of the world, the pandemic has also brought deep economic impacts, and protests took place last week in Quito. More than 150,000 jobs have been lost, resulting in an $8 billion hit to the economy, according to Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno. In April, Moreno cut his own salary and those of his ministers by 50%. In May, the government closed several of its ministries and embassies, along with selling state-owned enterprises, including the postal service. It has also liquidated the national airline and railway company.
Today’s shipment from Direct Relief marks the third delivery to Ecuador amid the pandemic. Previous shipments include personal protection equipment sent via the Pan American Health Organization and surgical masks donated by AstraZeneca and sent by Direct Relief to Ecuador’s Ministry of Health.
Since Direct Relief’s first Covid-19 response shipment on Jan. 24, 2020, the organization has sent $23 million in medical aid to South America via 26 deliveries.
Direct Relief’s relationship with Ecuador dates back decades and includes major responses to disasters such as volcanic eruptions and the 2016 earthquake, during which Direct Relief chartered a 767 cargo aircraft to deliver more than 47 tons of urgently requested medications and supplies worth more than $2.1 million.
Since 2010, Direct Relief has sent more $10.8 million of medical aid and more than 2.4 million doses of medicine to 18 health care providers in Ecuador.