First patient in Ecuador with South African coronavirus variant dies


QUITO, May 21 (Xinhua) — Ecuador’s first patient diagnosed with the South African variant of the novel coronavirus died early Friday at the Luis Davila Provincial General Hospital in Tulcan, a city in northern Carchi province, the Ministry of Public Health said.

The patient, a resident of Tulcan, had no history of traveling abroad, and neither did her family.

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“The person presented symptoms of community (transmitted) pneumonia associated with COVID-19, cardiorespiratory arrest and liver failure, which complicated her health,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ecuador’s first case of the South African variant was identified by the Institute of Microbiology at the San Francisco University of Quito through genomic sequencing based on a sample taken from the patient.

As a result of this case, health authorities are “carrying out genomic monitoring of this variant” and trying to isolate other potential carriers through “community surveillance and an active search for cases,” the ministry said.

Other samples taken in Tulcan are being analyzed with the support of laboratories at the National Institute for Public Health Research and private universities, and the results of the investigation will be released soon, according to the ministry.

“Citizen co-responsibility is essential to avoid possible infections, therefore we urge the population to maintain safety measures, such as the correct use of a face mask, physical distancing and frequent hand washing,” said the ministry.

The South African variant joins four others circulating in Ecuador, including the Brazilian and United Kingdom variants, which are more contagious and have already led to more than a hundred cases of infection in the South American country.

Ecuador has registered 416,621 cases of COVID-19 and 14,693 deaths from the disease since the onset of the pandemic just over a year ago, according to the latest report from the ministry.

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