The port city of Guayaquil, 2.8 million people in Ecuador, has so many bodies that some are left on the street.
In recent days, several bodies wrapped in bags have been left on the streets. Some of the other bodies unclaimed in hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed by the epidemic. Meanwhile, the city’s morgue is full, the South China Morning Post recalls the Tribune News Service.
Most of these bodies are thought to be victims of the virus, but no one knows for sure how many. Testing is still limited in Ecuador.
The country currently has 2,700 infections and 93 deaths, including 60 in Guayaquil and surrounding areas. But local officials say they have collected at least 400 bodies in recent days.
Mayor Cynthia Viteri, also recently positive for the virus, said the national government was responsible for removing the bodies.
“They’re being left behind in villages, they’re being put outside hospitals,” she said in a video on Twitter. “Nobody wants to move them.”
Most of the bodies found on the street were probably poor, said Hector Galarza, a media worker in Guayaquil. “This is scaring people.”
On March 30, in central Guayaquil, a body lay on the sidewalk under a blue nylon sheet, according to Reuters.
Police said it was a man collapsed while waiting to enter a store. Reuters could not identify the man or the cause of his death. A few hours later, the body was transferred.
That same day, a former mayor announced the creation of a “crisis committee” of business circles, authorities and experts, to “handle the transportation and burial of large numbers of corpses from clinics.” and the hospital is struggling with a pandemic. “
Juan Carlos Freire, a lawyer in the city, said the public’s frustration was increasing.
“People are asking some agency to take the body away, but none is responsible for leaving them in the central streets of Guayaquil,” he said.
Mayor Guayaquil said on Tuesday that unclaimed bodies would now be placed in three reefer containers, while authorities were preparing additional accommodation in a new cemetery.
The government denied rumors that the new cemetery would be a mass grave, and said it would all be buried in a proper Christian rite.
About 500-1,000 patients are visiting the largest Los Ceibos hospital in Guayaquil every day, with respiratory symptoms, according to officials. Many people are not infected with the virus, but the number of visits makes the hospital overload.
The National Nurse Association says up to 370 nurses in Ecuador are thought to have contracted the disease and five have died.