QUITO, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Crowds and gatherings in Ecuador have increased by 15 percent in the first week following the end of lockdown restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), an official source said on Tuesday.
"The latent concern we continue to have is the issue of crowds, they are on the rise. At the national level we are growing by 15 percent and in (the capital) Quito, by 12 percent," Juan Zapata, director of the country's emergency service, ECU 911, told a local TV network.
Since a state of emergency was lifted on Sept. 14 after some six months, authorities have reported 57,726 crowds or social gatherings, mainly in the three largest cities: Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito.
The impact of these social gatherings will be seen in 14 days, said Zapata, calling for continued social distancing.
"When the state of emergency is over, we don't all have to go out to public spaces, to offices, to neighborhoods, to parks, but to continue taking care of ourselves because the virus is still present," he said.
Officials are especially concerned about crowding on public transit, said Zapata, adding "experts say the virus moves with mobility."
According to the Ministry of Health, Ecuador has seen a total of 127,643 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7,330 deaths from the disease as of Tuesday.
Another 3,796 deaths are considered to have been caused by COVID-19, but have not been verified, the ministry said.