Police and airport staff in Ecuador have taken an extra step to contain spread of coronavirus after they blocked a runway of a major airport to stop planes from landing.
According to telesurtv, the officers and staff parked their vehicles on Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport to prevent the arrival of a plane from Spain on the suspicion that it was carrying passengers infected with COVID-19.
The flight was then forced to divert to Quito, the Ecuadorian capital.
Africa Tembelea understands that the sudden deployment of police cars along the runway was decided unilaterally by the mayor of the city.
“I authorized the deployment of vehicles to prevent the landing of passengers who might be infected with coronavirus,” city mayor Cinthia Viteri told reporters.
“I also decided to do so because Guayaquil is an infection and risk area. If they are healthy, they could be infected in the city,” she added.
#ÚLTIMAHORA Video captado desde helicóptero muestra el bloqueo del Aeropuerto José Joaquín Olmedo de Guayaquil (Ecuador) por parte de la Alcadía Municipal y la Policía Metropolitana. Buscan impedir el aterrizaje del vuelo IBE6453 procedente de Madrid (ESP) pic.twitter.com/rSWdDYp8iC
— Webinfomil.com (@Webinfomil) March 18, 2020
Africa Tembelea has however learnt that, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Transport and Public Works rejected the decision.
“It is a violent act, which should not go unpunished,” the entity said in a statement.
The aviation authorities have launched investigations into the incident with some leaders questioning authority of the mayor to lock down an international airport. Ecuador has suffered 168 confirmed cases of the virus and three deaths.
Many countries across the world have banned flights from specific regions hit by the virus that has claimed 9,278 lives with 225,724 confirmed cases.
As of Thursday afternoon, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide had climbed to more than 236,000. Deaths had risen to 9,790 with nearly 85,000 having recovered.