COVID-19 Community Transmission and Super Spreaders in Rural Villages from Manabi Province in the Coastal Region of Ecuador Assessed by Massive Testing of Community-Dwelling Population

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  • 1 One Health Research Group, Universidad de Las Américas, Quito, Ecuador;
  • | 2 “UDLA-COVID-19 Team,” Universidad de Las Américas, Quito, Ecuador;
  • | 3 Dirección General de Investigación, Universidad de Las Américas, Quito, Ecuador

Neglected rural communities in Latin America are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a poor health infrastructure and limited access to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnosis. Manabí is a province of the Coastal Region of Ecuador characterized by a high prevalence of rural population living under poverty conditions. In the current study, we present the retrospective analysis of the results of a massive SARS-CoV-2 testing operation in nonhospitalized populations from Manabí carried out from August to September 2020. A total of 4,003 people from 15 cantons were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse-transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction, resulting in an overall infection rate of 16.13% for SARS-CoV-2, with several communities > 30%. Moreover, 29 SARS-CoV-2 super-spreader community-dwelling individuals with viral loads above 108 copies/mL were found. These results support that uncontrolled COVID-19 community transmission was happening in Manabí during the first semester of COVID-19 pandemic. This report endorses the utility of massive SARS-CoV-2 testing among asymptomatic population for control and surveillance of COVID-19.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Miguel Angel Garcia-Bereguiain, One Health Research Group, Universidad de Las Américas, Quito, Ecuador. E-mail:

UDLA COVID-19 Team: Daniela Santander Gordon, Gabriel Alfredo Iturralde, Julio Alejandro Teran, Karen Marcela Vasquez, Jonathan Dario Rondal, Genoveva Granda, Ana Cecilia Santamaria, Cynthia Lorena Pino, Oscar Lenin Espinosa, Angie Buitron, David Sanchez Grisales, Karina Beatriz Jimenez, Heberson Galvis, Barbara Coronel, Vanessa Bastidas, Dayana Marcela Aguilar, Ines Maria Paredes, Christian David Bilvao, Sebastian Rodriguez Pazmiño, Juan Carlos Laglaguano, Henry Herrera, Pablo Marcelo Espinosa, Edison Andres Galarraga, Marlon Steven Zambrano-Mila, Ana Maria Tito, and Nelson David Zapata.

Financial support: This study was supported by “Fondo Sumar Juntos” (Banco de Pichincha) and Universidad de Las Américas.

Disclosure: Written consent was obtained for all the individuals included on the surveillance before sample collection. This retrospective study using anonymized data from SARS-CoV-2 testing study was approved by “Universidad de Las Américas” Institutional Review Board in accordance with the regulations for COVID-19–related research from the Ministry of Health of Ecuador.

Authors’ addresses: Maria Belen Rodriguez-Paredes, Paolo Alexander Vallejo-Janeta, Diana Morales-Jadan, Byron Freire-Paspuel, Esteban Ortiz-Prado, Aquiles R. Henriquez-Trujillo, Ismar A. Rivera-Olivero, Tatiana Jaramillo, and Tannya Lozada, Universidad de Las Américas, Quito, Ecuador, E-mails:,,,,,,, and Miguel Angel Garcia-Bereguiain, Universidad de Las Americas Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Quito, Ecuador, E-mail: