On February 29, 2020, the first case of the Coronavirus in Ecuador was detected. The maximum authorities of the Galapagos National Park immediately took exhaustive measures to prevent any contact in the province.
Mr. Norman Wray, as a president of the Galapagos Governing Council activated the Local Emergency Operations Committee and established the following guidelines:
- Increased controls at ports and airports.
- Any person with COVID-19 related respiratory condition symptoms is not admitted to the islands.
- The possibility of not admitting those who -in the last 30 days- registered visits to countries that have an active outbreak of COVID-19.
- Intensification in control and training to manage the pandemic in Galapagos.
Below you will find a chronologic actions the Galapagos National Park has taken during this crisis:
March 11, 2020
The Ecuadorian National Administration declared the country in a health emergency against COVID-19. On March 12, authorities of the Government of Galapagos coordinated a Local Action Plan for the containment and mitigation in case of presenting symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The plan consists of:
- Determine the local health units, as well as the flows of care for patients suspected of COVID19 on boats, hotels, and tour operators.
- Rapid response teams were established to answer calls from the ECU 9-1-1 emergency line (telemedicine care)
- Health professionals carry out home visits in case of suspicious patients.
- Promulgation of the measures imposed by the National Government: hygiene habits, avoiding crowds, and staying at home.
March 13, 2020
The following measures were implemented:
- Any person – Ecuadorian or not – from China (Hubei and Guandong provinces), Spain, France, Iran, Germany, South Korea or Italy, who have not carried out preventive isolation, was prohibited from entering the Galapagos province. In an uninterrupted period of fourteen days, after they arrived to Ecuador.
- Traffic Control Technicians from Council of the Special Galapagos Regime, conducted immigration interviews to have a record of the origin and permanence in Galapagos of those who wish to enter the province.
March 15, 2020
Stricter measures were established for the conservation of the heritage, tourists, and inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands. Every foreign or national person that comes from abroad, must carry out mandatory preventive isolation in the continent for 14 days before entering Galapagos.
Suspension of massive events and implementation of sanitary measures.
March 17, 2020
The Ecuadorian Government implemented a lockdown from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- By the increase in cases of coronavirus in the world. The Ministry of Transportation in conjunction with the Governing Council of the Special Regime of Galapagos and the Ministry of Public Health, issued the regulation for the entry and exit of aircraft to and from the Galapagos Islands:
- The entry of airplanes to the Galapagos Islands will be exclusive with a crew, cargo, and without passengers.
- Exceptionally, we can enter airplanes with medical personnel, personnel from the Armed Forces, and the National Police that comply with the protocols established by the Ministry of Health.
- The return of aircraft from the Galapagos province to the continent was carried out with the crew, cargo, and passengers, by established protocols.
- Any national or foreign person, before leaving Galapagos for continental Ecuador, must comply with the medical check-up, following the protocol established by the Ministry of Health. Once they arrive at the required airports, they will comply with the Mandatory Preventive Isolation (APO) in private homes or places of permanent stay, stories such as hotels or reception points, established in the registration and control form.
March 23, 2020
The president of the Galapagos Governing Council, Norman Wray, reported that the first four cases of COVID-19 were detected on the Galapagos Islands. In Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal. All 4 cases are stable to date and 1 case is native to the Islands, the remaining 3 are from Guayaquil, due to the contact that is maintained with the mainlands.
March 30, 2020
- Commercial airlines entry to the archipelago with 920 food kits for families in vulnerable situations. Also, other important actions were taken such as:
- Since the beginning of the health emergency, the Galapagos Governing Council has managed 7 commercial flights to evacuate more than 1,000 foreign and national tourists, who for various reasons entered the province since January of this year.
- Thanks to private-public efforts and the collaboration of the Armed Forces, 12.3 tons of gel alcohol, masks, gloves, donated by companies in the Galapagos tourism sector were transported on their logistics plane.
April 8, 2020
Mr Norman Wray together with 4 epidemiologist doctors, 6 doctors and 2 laboratory workers traveled to Isabela to start the timely intervention plan that allows for containment and virus mitigation to reduce the impact on the health of the inhabitants of the different islands of the archipelago.
- 579 samples were realized, of which 459 have been discarded as being negative for COVID-19.
- 22 cases were confirmed in the Isabela Islands (3), Santa Cruz (13), and San Cristóbal (6).
- 21 cases of the Flora crew were dismissed.
- The Celebrity Flora ship has its medical staff that controls the crew and analyzes the evolution of each one.
- It also urged all vessels and Galapagos cruises to report at the time of any possible transmission of Coronavirus.
Also, an analysis was carried out on 69 crew members (not tourists) of the Celebrity Flora ship, of the 48 positive results of the COVID-19 test. The crew is in isolation on board the boat from Baltra Island in a stable condition.
April 13, 2020
The operation of the Galapagos Laboratory (Labgal) started. Located on Santa Cruz Island, which processes COVID-19 test samples in the province. It has certification in Biosecurity II and III.
The implementation of this laboratory has been carried out in coordination with the Galapagos Governing Council, The Ministry of Public Health, the Agency for the Regulation and Control of Biosecurity and Quarantine for Galapagos (ABG) and the University of Las Américas (UDLA), an institution that delivered 3,000 diagnostic kits for SARS-CoV-2 and a thermal cycler.
The Labgal has the capacity for approximately 100 daily RT-PCR tests. The UDLA and ABG researchers estimate the results of the tests carried out in a maximum of 24 hours.
Until April 21, 2020
The number of infected by COVID-19 in the Galapagos Islands is 78. In Isabela Island (3), Santa Cruz (16), San Cristobal (11), and the Celebrity Flora ship cases (48).
Concerning these confirmed cases, the Mayor’s Office reports that they are complying with all protocols to treat the disease.
More than 100 tests are being carried out daily in the Labgal laboratory.
On the other hand, the mayor of Galapagos is making a “Mobility protocol for the return of residents to Galapagos”, which is awaiting the approval of the National COE. To date, there are 3,591 inhabitants of the Islands in the mainland.
The priority is also to protect the health of those who return to the archipelago and those who are currently on the Island.
At Galagents we will keep you posted with the latest information regarding the situation as we follow all the protocols needed in order to come back to regular operations when is authorized.