Coronavirus: Getting medical help in Loja Ecuador

The team at 'Life in Loja' have been getting lots of questions about what to do if a citizen, traveler, or expat feels ill and suspects they may have the Coronavirus disease. We went in search of answers and reached out to the official Ecuador hotline and also spoke with personnel at a local health center.

Before we get to the the list of questions I want to point out that we care deeply about people's health and also their experiences in Loja. We are available to assist you with our translation/interpretation services, our delivery service, locating doctors or clinics, and just in general by providing useful information - not only during this emergency situation but during normal times, too.

Q: What should I do if I feel sick?
A: By now you should know what the symptoms of the new coronavirus are and if you suspect you have the virus you have two options in Loja. You could phone the emergency call center number 171 or you should go the closest Centro de Salud (Health Center) where a doctor will evaluate your symptoms.

Q: How does the 171 national emergency hotline work?
A: You call that number and a person will answer your call (in Spanish). They will ask questions about your health status, if you have traveled to one of the most risky countries with coronavirus breakouts, etc. Once they finish with the questions they will tell you where to go for treatment.

Q: Is there anyone at the call center who speaks English who can answer my questions?
A: No one speaks English. Just Spanish and Kichwa.

Q: Is the hotline always open for calls?
A: The hotline is only available from 7 am to 7pm from Monday to Friday, and on the weekend it's available from 8 am to 2 pm.

Q: What are the emergency provisions in Loja?
A: The Hospital Isidro Ayora is the official place certified to attend to patients identified as having the virus. They have prepared doctors, staff, isolation beds and medications for the emergency.

Q: Should I go to the hospital if I suspect I am sick?
A: No, you shouldn't go directly to the hospital. Try calling 171 first and telling them about your symptoms. They will tell you where exactly to go depending on your condition. Probably they will give you an appointment to go to the closest Centro de Salud so that a doctor can check you.

Q: Who will pay if I am instructed to go to a hospital?
A: The government of Ecuador will pay for your treatment no matter if you are a visitor, Ecuadorian citizen, or expat.

Q: How should I get to a hospital?
A: You can take a cab and go to the hospital or a Centro de Salud.

Q: Do I go to the Emergency department or some other admissions office?
A: Go directly to the Emergency room.

Q: What should I take with me to the hospital, or what should I specifically leave home? For example - a cellphone that has a translation app?
A: Your passport or ID card are a must. The people on the hotline or the emergency doctor will tell you exactly what you can and can't carry with you. If possible, ask a friend to translate for you.

Q: Should I have a friend or relative go with me to the hospital or will they not be allowed to be with me?
A: They can take you to the Centro de Salud or hospital but they can't stay with you in the emergency room if you test positive for coronavirus.

Q: If I am instructed to stay home are there specific medications needed that can be delivered?
A: This will depend on the doctor’s treatment plan.

Q: What do I do If I feel sick in Vilcabamba?
A: You should go to the closest Centro de Salud or Hospital and tell them every one of your symptoms and health problems.

Q: What if I have questions about the virus? Where can I get information that is accurate?
A: You can call 171 and ask for information or go to the closest Centro de Salud.

This blog post is an example of how the team at Life in Loja helps tourists and visitors, expats and immigrants, to better appreciate the many aspects of living in Loja, Ecuador. If you would like to know more about our custom tours and relocation services then contact us by email or phone/WhatsApp at 593-098-674-5994 to begin a conversation.


  1. Thank you! We just had some friends ask about medical care in case of illness. I forwarded this to them. Excellent!!!!

    1. Thank you Ransom! Hope you all stay safe. Send my regards to Laurie


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