QUITO, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador's Health Ministry reported on Friday 1,561 new COVID-19 infections and 31 more deaths in one day, for a total of 396,888 cases and 13,854 deaths, amid a surge of infections that has saturated hospitals.
The province of Pichincha led in new cases over the last day, with 1,008, of which 913 corresponded to Quito, the capital and epicenter of the pandemic in the South American country.
In addition, authorities are concerned about the circulation in the country of more contagious coronavirus variants that have already begun to spread through community transmission.
On Friday night, 16 of the country's 24 provinces will begin a third lockdown over the weekend, amid a state of emergency in effect since April 23.
The measure, decreed by the government to curb the increase in infections, will last until May 20 and it includes a night curfew and weekend quarantine.
Along with these restrictions, the public and private sector are mandated to telework and in-person classes at all levels are suspended.
As of May 5, Ecuador had vaccinated 924,539 people with their first dose and 257,546 with their second, according to the Health Ministry.