Galapagos Islands report 73 cases, mostly aboard a ship
QUITO (AFP) – Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, a Unesco World Heritage site, have 73 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, the majority on board a tourist ship, the governing council president said on Wednesday (April 15).
“Forty-eight positive cases have been identified” out of the 69 people on board the Flora, Mr Norman Wray told AFP.
Mr Wray, who heads the Galapagos Government Council, added that all passengers are crew members, as the ship no longer has tourists on board.
“In total, we have 73” confirmed cases and two deaths on the archipelago, Mr Wray said.
Ecuador has recorded 7,858 cases and 388 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Guayas province and its capital, port city Guayaquil, have been the hardest hit, comprising about 70 per cent of the cases reported since Feb 29.
According to Mr Wray, there are still 1,000 tourists in the Galapagos, most of whom are Ecuadorians who decided to stay during the general lockdown, which has been extended by the national government until April 19.
About 1,500 other tourists were evacuated from the islands.
Tourism makes up 75 per cent of the revenue for the archipelago – whose flora and fauna are unique throughout the world – bringing in about US$110 million (S$156.79 million) per year, Mr Wray said.
The tourism sector is currently “paralysed”, and “the Galapagos are in a severe crisis”, he added.
The archipelago of volcanic islands lies about 1,000 kilometres to the west of Ecuador.
English naturalist, biologist and geologist Charles Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution after studying endemic species in the Galapagos islands.