Ecuador’s po­lice col­lect 800 bod­ies from the epi­cen­ter

Kuwait Times - - In­ter­na­tional -

GUAYAQUIL: Ecuador said po­lice have re­moved al­most 800 bod­ies in re­cent weeks from homes in Guayaquil, the epi­cen­ter of the coun­try’s coro­n­avirus out­break, af­ter the dis­ease over­whelmed emer­gency ser­vices, hos­pi­tals and fu­neral par­lors. Mor­tu­ary work­ers in the Pa­cific port city have been un­able to cope with a back­log, with res­i­dents post­ing videos on so­cial me­dia show­ing aban­doned bod­ies in the streets.

“The num­ber we have col­lected with the task force from peo­ple’s homes ex­ceeded 700 peo­ple,” said Jorge Wated, who leads a team of po­lice and mil­i­tary per­son­nel cre­ated by the gov­ern­ment to help with the chaos un­leashed by COVID-19. He later said Sun­day on Twit­ter that the joint task force, in op­er­a­tion for the past three weeks, had re­trieved 771 bod­ies from

homes and an­other 631 from hos­pi­tals, whose morgues are full. Wated did not spec­ify the cause of death for the vic­tims, 600 of whom have now been buried by the au­thor­i­ties.

Ecuador has recorded 7,500 cases of the coro­n­avirus since the first di­ag­no­sis was con­firmed on Fe­bru­ary 29. The coastal prov­ince of Guayas ac­counts for over 70 per­cent of those in­fected in the coun­try, with 4,000 cases in the cap­i­tal Guayaquil, ac­cord­ing to the na­tional gov­ern­ment. The mil­i­tary and po­lice be­gan re­mov­ing bod­ies from homes three weeks af­ter the mor­tu­ary sys­tem in Guayaquil col­lapsed, caus­ing de­lays in foren­sic ser­vices and fu­neral homes un­der a 15-hour long daily cur­few.

Guayaquil res­i­dents posted videos on so­cial me­dia of bod­ies aban­doned in the streets, along with mes­sages ask­ing for help to bury their fam­ily mem­bers. The Ecuado­rian gov­ern­ment has taken on the task of bury­ing bod­ies, given the in­abil­ity of rel­a­tives to do so for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial ones. In early April, Wated said “med­i­cal ex­perts un­for­tu­nately... es­ti­mate that COVID-19-re­lated deaths in these months will reach be­tween 2,500 and 3,500, just in the prov­ince of Guayas.”— AFP

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