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Excerpt from Globaltimes.cn

When the coronavirus pandemic reached South America, human activity on the Galapagos Islands, in the Pacific west of Ecuador, ground almost to a halt, leaving giant tortoises, iguanas and other endemic species to themselves.

A four-month lockdown starting in February 2020 after COVID-19 was first detected in the region resulted in a total halt of tourism and near complete shutdown of scientific research.

“The impact of COVID[-19] was very tough… the shutdown was immediate, from one day to the next,” complained Juan Carlos Moncayo, 50, who runs a scuba diving center and had to make his six employees redundant.

“We had no time to prepare ourselves.”

Since July, the archipelago of 234 islands has partially reopened to tourism – but that has been limited to just 6,000 visitors a month, compared to an average 23,000 before the pandemic.

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