Background: As the disease caused by the novel coronavirus has spread globally, there has been significant economic instability in the healthcare systems. This reality was especially accentuated in Ecuador where, the shortage of healthcare workers combined with cultural and macroeconomic factors has led Ecuador to face the most aggressive outbreak in Latin America. In this context, the participation of final-year medical students on the front line is indispensable. Appropriate training on COVID-19 is an urgent requirement that universities and health systems must guarantee. We aimed to describe the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Ecuadorian final-year medical students that could potentially guide the design of better medical education curricula regarding COVID-19. Methods: This was a cross-sectional 33-item online survey conducted between April 6 to April 2020 assessing the knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and prognosis toward COVID-19 in Ecuadorian final-year medical students. It was sent by email, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Results: A total of 309 students responded to the survey. Out of which 88% of students scored high (≥ 70% correct) for knowledge of the disease. The majority of students were pessimistic about possible government actions, which is reflected in the negative attitude towards the control of COVID-19 and volunteering during the outbreak in Ecuador (77%, and 58% of the students, respectively). Moreover, 91% of students said they did not have adequate protective equipment. The latter finding was significantly associated with negative attitudes. Conclusions: Although a large number of students displayed negative attitudes, the non-depreciable percentage of students who were willing to volunteer and the coexisting high level of knowledge displayed by students, suggests that Ecuador has a capable upcoming workforce that could benefit from an opportunity to strengthen, improve and advance their training in preparation for COVID-19. Not having personal protective equipment was significantly associated to negative attitudes. Providing the necessary tools and creating a national curriculum may be one of the most effective ways to ensure all students are trained, whilst simultaneously focusing on the students’ most pressing concerns. With this additional training, negative attitudes will improve and students will be better qualified.
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