Ecuador announced on Sunday that it removed almost 800 bodies of people who died in their homes in recent weeks in Guayaquil, the epicenter of the coronavirus in the country, after the hospital and funeral systems collapsed due to the pandemic.
“The amount that we have collected, with the task force in homes, exceeded 700 people” died, Jorge Wated, who leads a team of police and military created by the government in the face of the chaos unleashed in Guayaquil by the covid-19.
The person in charge later indicated through his Twitter account that this joint task force, which has been operating for three weeks, carried out the legal survey of 771 deaths in homes and 631 in hospitals, whose morgues are full.
Authorities, now facing complaints from people claiming the bodies of their relatives killed in the midst of the pandemic, have buried some 600 of those dead.
Wated did not detail the causes of those 1,400 deaths that occurred during the pandemic health emergency, which in Ecuador leaves 7,500 cases, including 333 deaths according to official figures, since the presence of the virus was declared on February 29.
– Suspected cases of coronavirus –
The official report on the situation due to the coronavirus in the nation, where the first case corresponded to an Ecuadorian migrant who returned from Spain, also details until Sunday another 384 cases of people who probably died from the virus but were not tested. in life neither their bodies were autopsied to determine a possible contagion.
The coastal province of Guayas concentrates 72% of those infected. And in its capital, Guayaquil, there are around 4,000 patients, according to the national government.
The military and police force began removing bodies from houses in March after failures in the “mortuary system” of the Guayaquil port, which caused delays in the forensic service and funeral homes amid the 15-hour curfew that governs the country.
Given the situation, the Guayaquil residents broadcast videos of abandoned bodies on the streets and messages of help from relatives to bury their dead on social networks.
The Ecuadorian government also assumed the task of burying bodies due to the inability of their relatives to do so for various reasons, including economic.
From Guayaquil, in a virtual press conference, Wated pointed out that the remains of 600 fully identified people have been buried in two city cemeteries.
The burials are carried out without the accompaniment of relatives of the victims and their names appear on an electronic portal created by the Executive so that the relatives know where their relatives are buried.
– “We have no strays” –
Residents of the Pascuales cemetery have released videos of cargo vehicles towing refrigerated containers entering the churchyard, escorted by police.
Given the lack of capacity in the morgues, the Guayaquil mayor’s office arranged several containers to convert them into morgue outside hospitals and the forensic police.
In the midst of this tragic situation, several people claim the bodies of their loved ones. Wated said: “We have no cases of missing (bodies).”
Blanca Reyes, a 45-year-old merchant, told AFP that she was informed two weeks ago of the death of her father hospitalized in the Los Ceibos sanatorium, the most important in Guayaquil and intended for those infected with covid-19.
“I am asking the competent authorities to please help me find my father, who in life was an excellent person, dedicated to (soccer) arbitration,” said the woman.
The security of the morgue in that hospital had to be reinforced after the identifications of 13 deceased were lost, after relatives broke into the place and removed some bodies without authorization, according to the newspaper El Comercio.
Wated anticipated two weeks ago that “medical experts unfortunately (…) estimate that the deaths in these months will reach between 2,500 to 3,500 by covid, only in the province of Guayas.”
Guayas is the province that contributes the most to Ecuador’s GDP (27%) and Guayaquil is the main commercial center of the country.