QUITO – The head of the Ecuadorian presidential security detail died from swine flu over the weekend 27 days after being admitted to the Quito Military Hospital’s intensive care unit, the Office of the President said.
Col. John Merino was admitted on Aug. 10 in serious condition with complications from the AH1N1 flu virus after he coordinated the security operations for the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, summit, the Independence Bicentennial celebrations and the inauguration ceremony of Rafael Correa for a second term held on the same day.
Merino has remained in ICU since that data hanging “between life and death,” Correa said Aug. 29.
“My security chief, an extraordinary officer, air force Col. John Merino, is between life and death for going beyond the call of duty, even to the point of imprudence,” Correa said.
Merino did not tell anyone of his flu symptoms and continued working.
The 42-year-old Merino died around 8:00 p.m. Sunday in the hospital, where the president came to be with and show his support for the colonel’s relatives.
Correa said that “the security chief was a man who worked tirelessly for the National Government,” the Office of the President said in a statement.
The viewing will be held in the Yellow Room of the presidential palace, in the historic center of Quito, for a time on Monday but later in the day the body will be transported to the coastal city of Guayaquil.
The Office of the President expressed its “condolences ... (over the) irreparable loss.”
More than 900 people have been infected with the the AH1N1 flu virus in Ecuador, according to Health Ministry figures, with 45 people dying from the disease. EFE