Roundup: Glacier Regions Coronavirus Update From Ecuador, Pakistani Karakoram, the Caucasus, and the US

In Ecuador…

Small-scale food vendors, eager to sell their products, broke into the major food market in the town of Riobamba last week. Government regulations restrict access only to larger-scale vendors––the owners of shops and minimarkets, who have official documents registering them as commercial enterprises. Such small-scale vendors, often of Indigenous peasant background, are an established tradition in the highlands, and a key element of food supply networks that have been choked by the shutdown.

Below, a video posted on Twitter shows vendors entering the market in Riobamba:

Quechua Indigenous communities Facundo Vela and Simiatug near Chimborazo put up a roadblock to prevent infected people from entering.
There are concerns of infection both from tourists (some French tourists, who were infected with Covid-19, attended a village wedding, placing local people at risk), and from local people who are returning from the coastal city of Guayaquil, the center of the pandemic, to which they migrated for work.

In Pakistan…

Much as mountain residents in Ecuador seek to return from lowland cities with high rates of infection––the same is true in Pakistan. In the Broghil region, a high mountain pass in the Hindu Kush, the Pamir Times reports food insecurity issues as workers return to the area after the lockdown.

The Pamir Times reported around 7,000 residents of Gilgit-Pakistan are stranded in Karachi due to the pandemic.

Hunza is a mountainous valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, where women artisans are producing masks for nearby communities in the country’s mountainous north.

Ramazan 2020 (also spelled Ramadan), began on April 23, with some modifications. Clerics of Baltistan decided not to hold Friday prayers in Mosques.

A response from the local religious leaders in Gilgit-Baltistan urging people to listen to medical professionals and adhere to science and to “Pray at home, stay safe, keep others safe.”

In the Caucasus

The WHO reports 485 cases in the country of Georgia and five deaths.

Protests among farmers are growing as frustration mounts over emergency restrictions:

In their continued effort to stop the spread of the virus, Forbes reports the Government of Georgian announced today the country’s likely extension of the state of emergency through May 22.

In Armenia, the WHO reports 1746 cases and 28 deaths. A television tower in Tbilisi, Georgia was illuminated with the colors of the Armenian flag––a sign of solidarity for the neighboring nations.

Meanwhile, in the US the lockdown is pushing into the remaining days of April. People continue to find ways to support local businesses while adhering to social distancing orders. In the city of Concrete, Washington, a local movie theater organized a popup popcorn parade. Last Saturday night, cars wanting popcorn were instructed to stop in front of the theater, turn on headlights, honk, and request butter or no butter and number of tubs and toppings.

Read More on GlacierHub:

Photo Friday: A Digital Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Mount Everest

Dolomites, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Center of Mounting Controversy

Video of the Week: GlacierHub Celebrates Earth Day 50th Anniversary

Roundup: Glacier Regions Coronavirus Update From Italy, Ecuador, and Pakistan

In Italy…

The worst of the coronavirus outbreak appears to be over, for now. Last week The New York Times reported that thanks to the nationwide lockdown, the number of I.C.U. patients had dropped to 2,812 by Friday, and coronavirus hospitalizations had fallen from a high of 29,010 patients on April 4 to 25,786. Those figures reflect “a steady decline in one of the world’s hardest-hit countries.” GlacierHub has kept up with dispatches from South Tyrol, one of the most impacted glacier regions in the world. A post in Sepp Laner’s fourth corona diary, “Horses Rather Than Guests,” was published in the Schlanders-based media outlet der Vinschger, in the Italian Alps. The stirring post (translated from German) reads:

Everything will be fine? Yes, everything will be fine. “Alles wird gut.”
The only question is when. Nobody knows the exact answer yet. But we hope and believe that it is clear that everything will be fine again.
The message hangs from balconies of houses and apartments, on the social support agency, at the community center and in many other places. Besides saying that everything is fine, the colors of the posters also stand out. There are bright and happy colors that convey hope. There is silence in the air.
Quiet, that actually fits well with today’s Holy Saturday, the day of the Lord’s rest in His grave.  And when it gets quiet all around, we listen and we can observe things that otherwise almost always go unnoticed. On the meadow in front of the local hotel that I see from the balcony, it was always teeming with children who were playing there, taking part in their Easter vacation brimming with holiday kids playing. Now it’s the horses of the nature-based riding school, who graze there and chase flies away with their tails.

Lake Garda, where thousands of vacationers, including some from our province, rush around each year at this time, there is nothing. Also the international three-country race at Schöneben (a ski race right at the point where Italy, Austria and Switzerland meet, with a route that includes all three countries), which is always takes place on Easter Monday has been, swallowed by the coronavirus, like the Haflinger horse race in Meran and countless other fixed events. Social, sporting, cultural, religious and economic life has had a veil put over it. Everything is covered. Almost nothing is fixed. Everything flows, said Heraclitus. What will flow after this year and beyond, nobody can say. It will be years, if not decades, until the
material and spiritual wounds that the virus is tearing open around the world will heal.  I can’t give up the hope that we have a better world. “Everything will be fine,” old Max calls out from the top floor of the civic center. He holds up four fingers up, and with this gesture  says, “We’ve been ‘locked up’ here for 4 weeks.” Nobody is allowed in, nobody out. It is certain is that this time will find its end. In this sense, every day we allow to pass in a disciplined and “well-behaved” way is a small success. The countdown is running.

In Ecuador…

As of April 19, reported cases are concentrated in the Pacific Coast region. In the highlands, where there are a number of glaciated peaks, cases are primarily in the larger towns. Only two largest cities have more than 100 cases––the capital city of Quito with 757, and Cuenca, with a population of 1.6 million, has 193 confirmed cases. The coastal city of Guayaquil, by comparison, has 4,822 out of a population of 2.3 million––Ecuador’s largest city.

Lack of tests and challenges to organizations that report deaths show significant undercounting and large demand at funeral homes in Ecuador. Preference of some families to bury their dead in hometown ceremonies has challenged lockdown efforts. Police checkpoints on roads to limit movement have complicated efforts of families to bring the bodies of relatives home for burial. In the tweet below, police inspect a truck transporting hidden bodies of people from Guayaquil home to mountain provinces of Chimborazo and Tungurahua.

In Riobamba, the situation in hospitals is difficult. Below, a tweet reports a patient with suspected coronavirus symptoms fled the government hospital and police tracked him back to his house.

The Ecuadorean government is conducting food deliveries to elderly people facing food insecurity, where proximity to paved roads and accessibility is a determinant of aid.

In Pakistan…

In the tweet by the deputy commissioner of Nagar, in the northern part of Gilgit–Baltistan, the community is commended for their resolve to maintain social distancing:

“India give us food, Imran is killing us,” said the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, referring to the prime minister of Pakistan. Food shortages have resulted in runaway prices in the region.

Though Gilgit-Baltistan is the second-most tested province in the country, the chart below indicates disproportionate rates of testing. “Islamabad maintains its crown of ensuring it comes first,” one Twitter user said.

Read More on GlacierHub:

Roundup: Covid-19 Reports From Glacier Regions

Photo Friday: Coronavirus Shutdown Brings Clean Air, Clear Mountain Views

The Covid-19 Pandemic Complicates Tourism in the Everest Region