Ecuador, one of the countries in Latin America hardest hit by COVID-19, has hired Balsera Communications (Coral Gables, FL) to counter the perception that it is besieged by the virus and lacks a cohesive response.

Working with the Ecuadorian ambassador to the US, Balsera is to execute crisis and reputational management pertaining to COVID-19 in the US.

It will conduct outreach to think tanks and non-governmental thought leaders and monitor media and prepare appropriate reactions when necessary, according to its agreement with Ecuador

The contract went into effect June 4 and runs through August 15. Balsera has received $37,500 to cover its May activity.

ABC News reported that a major laboratory in Ecuador's capital city of Quito had to close June 12 and halt COVID-19 tests due to lack of basic supplies to analyze specimens.

Corruption scandals have dealt a setback to testing, according to ABC. Ecuador's former president Abdalá Bucaram was arrested earlier this month as part of a corruption probe after investigators found 5,000 masks and 2,000 test kits in his home.

China announced it would support Ecuador in the battle against COVID-19 by supplying assistance and cooperating in areas such as vaccine and drug research and production.

That development followed phone calls between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Ecuadorian counterpart, Lenin Moreno, on June 16.

Moreno called China Ecuador's most important comprehensive strategic partner.