QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s health minister said on Thursday the country’s coronavirus case total was twice as high as previously confirmed, as authorities added 11,000 new infections that resulted from delayed testing.
With 560 confirmed deaths, the outbreak has ravaged the economy of the oil-producing country and overwhelmed sanitary authorities in the largest city of Guayaquil, where corpses remained in homes or for hours on the streets.
Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said the government would add the new cases to the confirmed total of 11,183 infections. Almost 24,000 test results were pending, according to the health ministry’s figures, and on average they take a week to process.
Zevallos said authorities were also calling relatives of people who had recently died in Ecuador, with a population of 17.4 million, to check whether the deceased had coronavirus symptoms, as many deaths were not linked to the disease due to a lack of testing.
Last week, the government said during the first 15 days of April authorities registered 6,700 deaths in Guayaquil’s surrounding province of Guayas, against an average of 2,000 deaths in January and February.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Richard Chang)