Quito (EFE).- The sudden spread of the coronavirus in the province of Guayas, whose capital Guayaquil is one of the cities in the world most affected by coronavirus per capita, has led to the abandonment of bodies that authorities are trying to solve.
The overflow of the situation in southwestern Ecuador, where 52 people have died of the nation’s 79 total, has forced the government of Lenín Moreno to launch a Joint Task Force this week to coordinate the collection of corpses.
For Jorge Wated, head of the Force, at the moment the presence of corpses in houses “is related to the limited capacity of funeral homes in the city to offer mortuary services in connection with the cemeteries of Guayaquil.” The funeral homes, overflowing with work often refuse to follow through on recollection and burial in fear of post-mortem infection.
Complicating the pick-up of coffins is a 15-hour curfew that starts 2:00 pm nationwide, preventing the completion of official death certificates. The new Task Force seeks to speed up death procedures and prevent people from taking to the streets to hand-over documents. Between Monday and Tuesday “we have buried approximately fifty people,” Wated told EFE.
Many of the victims of COVID-19 in Guayas have died in their homes, where they remain for days. “They leave the dead on sidewalks, in front of hospitals, nobody wants to pick them up,” said Guayaquil Mayor Cynthia Viteri from self-isolation after being tested positive for COVID-19. The delay in the removal of bodies has caused residents to turn to social media to beg for help, some with videos that have turned out to be false.” The cases reported to us, especially on social networks, inform us that relatives have been waiting four days, five days (for the removal of bodies),” said Wated.
With 3.6 million inhabitants, Guayaquil has accumulated 1,615 of the 2,302 coronavirus cases in Ecuador.
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno backtracked on a proposal to create a mass grave in which to bury the city’s dead, and state authorities reported Tuesday, that 115 requests for the removal of bodies from homes are pending with many more expected. “We are trying to get out of this overflow,” said Wated, adding that it is difficult to know the cause of death in homes since no autopsies are being carried out nor fast testing for COVID-19 in the country.
Guayaquil is located 600 km from Colombia’s southern border.