Unemployment, poverty on rise in Ecuador's capital due to COVID-19

QUITO, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated unemployment and poverty in the city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador and current epicenter of the virus in the country, Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda said on Friday.

At a virtual press conference, Yunda said that Quito "urgently" needs to reactivate its economy and return to normal after six months of restrictions, adding that the capital is "going through the most atrocious unemployment rate in the city's history."

As of Thursday, Quito had registered 23,583 cases of COVID-19, and has seen an escalation of infections since June 3 when the quarantine was relaxed to reactivate the economy.

The pandemic has badly damaged the nation's economy and has led to high unemployment. As of June, unemployment stood at 13.3 percent, meaning more than 1 million people are out of work across the country, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses.

In the meantime, Quito has registered 22.8 percent unemployment, with the Quito Chamber of Commerce estimating that the city has seen the destruction of more than 100,000 formal jobs.

The country's state of emergency will end on Sept. 13, and there will no longer be restrictions on mobility or gatherings, although in Quito, reopening will be gradual, and some restrictions will continue to be enforced to slow the spread of infection.

"We cannot stop anymore; we have to continue to reactivate ourselves. There is no economy that could support or endure so much confinement," Yunda added.

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