Ecuador's vice president resigns after leading state COVID-19 response

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador’s vice president, Otto Sonnenholzner, resigned on Tuesday amid a coronavirus outbreak that ravaged the country’s largest city of Guayaquil, though he saw his profile bolstered by leading the government’s efforts to restart the economy.

Sonnenholzner, who was in office for 18 months, is President Lenin Moreno’s third deputy to resign since Moreno began his term in mid-2017. In a televised statement, Sonnenholzner did not give a reason for his decision, or confirm media speculation that he plans to run in presidential elections next year.

“I’m leaving from here with the satisfaction of a responsibility fulfilled,” Sonnenholzner said.

Sonnenholzner was at the helm in March and April during one of Latin America’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in Guayaquil, when victims’ bodies were left in homes and on the street because hospitals lacked the capacity to collect them.

About 4,800 people have died of the virus in the Andean country, of which 1,600 died in Guayaquil’s surrounding province.

Sonnenholzner took charge of sending medical resources to hospitals and delivering food to vulnerable members of society. He also led the government’s plan to reactivate the economy by sustaining employment and issuing loans to sectors running out of funds.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Jonathan Oatis