(Quito) Ecuador on Monday banned the export of medical oxygen used to treat COVID-19 patients and capped the price of the product due to increased demand in the country, the National Committee for Emergency Operations (COE) said.
“It makes sense to prioritize the needs of our Ecuadorian compatriots as this is a fundamental element in saving lives,” WCC President Juan Zapata said at a press conference, noting the doubling of demand in the country.
Zapata said the measure would not affect Ecuador’s humanitarian agreements to supply medical oxygen. The committee’s decision also excludes sales contracts signed prior to the announcement.
“It may turn out that for some companies it is more productive to export, but we must be aware and in solidarity with the country, so production must remain in Ecuador,” stressed Mr. Zapata.
And to fight speculation about the price of oxygen, the President of the Council of Europe decided to cap the price.
“The decision was made at the request of the governors and mayors, who noted the shortage (of medical oxygen) and, especially, the presence of assumptions, so the ceilings were installed,” Juan Zapata said.
The committee decided that the price of six cubic meters of medical oxygen cannot exceed $ 36.20, eight cubic meters – $ 48, and ten cubic meters – $ 60.
In April, Ecuador also set a price cap for PCR tests at $ 45.08. Prior to this measure, the cost of such a test ranged from $ 80 to $ 120.
The South American country broke the monthly record in April with 53,107 reported cases of COVID-19, up from 42,600 in March. Faced with rising infections, President Lenin Moreno, who will step down on May 24, has declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew.
The country of 17.5 million has reported approximately 388,046 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 18,765 deaths.