QUITO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador on Thursday reported 1,687 new daily COVID-19 cases, bringing its total caseload to 226,002 since the start of the outbreak here on Feb. 29.
According to the Health Ministry, 12 more COVID-19 patients died in the same 24-hour period, raising the death toll to 9,648, in addition to another 4,598 probable deaths from the virus.
Of Ecuador's 24 provinces, 17 are seeing the virus spread at a faster rate, leading to intensive care units that are on average 85 percent full.
A COVID-19 vaccination drive is set to begin Jan. 18, Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said Thursday in an interview with local television.
"We have made a highly designed vaccination program to be able to apply the vaccines next week," he said, adding "we have already made progress on the list of people" prioritized for immunization.
Ecuador's first 86,000 doses of a vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech will target 43,000 people (with two doses each), including healthcare workers and older adults at care homes.