By Yury García and Vicente Gaibor del Pino
GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador, Apr 4 (Reuters) – The Government of Ecuador began to use refrigerated containers as temporary morgues due to the increasing number of deaths that are exceeding the capacity of hospitals in Guayaquil, epicenter of the coronavirus in the Andean country.
Ecuador confirmed on Saturday that some 318 people have died of contagion and suspected coronavirus, but President Lenín Moreno has said that the official record “falls short” and up to 100 bodies are being collected a day.
The city mayor’s office said it delivered three refrigerated containers to the government. On Friday he donated one of about 12 meters, the largest that exists, to the Police Criminalistics Laboratory to “house the bodies of people who are currently being collected in the city.”
So far, about 150 people have been buried in a cemetery in the city, one of the most populated in Ecuador.
At the Teodoro Maldonado Carbo hospital in southern Guayaquil, medical workers with protective gear moved plastic-wrapped bodies to a container, according to a Reuters photographer.
“This pandemic overwhelms the care capacity of various hospital services,” he said in a statement released on Friday.
The hospital confirmed Sunday that it had placed a
refrigerated container for victims who died in the middle
the pandemic, adding that it operates in accordance with the protocols of the World Health Organization.
The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS), which directs Teodoro Maldonado Carbo, said on Twitter on Saturday that they disinfected all areas of the hospital to ensure the safety of patients and medical professionals.
To the complaints of dozens of people on social networks about the delay in the removal of the deceased from homes throughout the city has been added the desperation of the relatives in the hospital morgues to remove the bodies and move them to the crowded cemeteries .
To accelerate the processes of removal and burial of bodies, the Government will install new mechanisms to help families who ask for help, including a new channel for reporting deaths in homes and a digital site to learn about burials.
“On Monday we are going to publish online the page where the relatives will be able to know where their relative is buried just by entering the ID and the name,” Jorge Wated, presidential delegate for the handling of deaths in the crisis, said in his Twitter account.
Moreno said this week that the government expected the total number of deaths in the Guayas province, where Guayaquil is located, to reach 3,500, and said that a “special camp” was being built to bury the dead.
(Additional report by Alexandra Valencia in Quito; edited by Rodrigo Charme and Carlos Serrano)