Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Ecuador’s government has begun storing the bodies of coronavirus victims in giant refrigerated containers. According to reports, due to hundreds of deaths in the city of Guayaquil, which is the epicentre of the outbreak in Ecuador, all the morgues and hospitals are already at capacity and cannot store any more.
As per reports, the government has installed three containers, with the largest among them being 12 meters long. These containers have been installed in public hospitals to preserve bodies until graves were prepared. On April 3, Ecuador’s government announced that it would establish a digital system through which families could find out where their relatives were buried.
According to reports, before the containers were installed, dead bodies of the COVID-19 patients were scattered and were piling up on the streets of Guayaquil, across hospitals, and in homes, as the public service reaches a point of collapse. The city, located in Ecuador, accounts for over 70 per cent of the 3,163 total cases registered in the country, according to local reports. At least 2,243 fatalities have been recorded there so far. Many have been reportedly dying at homes, without being tested, due to overburdened healthcare facilities.
The mayor of Guayaquil, Cynthia Viteri, said in the press briefing that the Ecuadorian government appealed to the municipality to lead the removal of the dead bodies. She said that overwhelming deaths have occurred across the city due to the COVID-19 disease or other circumstances. The situation was alarming, she added.
According to local media reports, the local task force has been collecting at least 100 bodies from the streets each day. Several families have been reported to have retained the bodies of the loved ones for over four days, and are still waiting for the forensics to collect it. As of March 30, Guayaquil City Councilor, Andres Guschmer took to Twitter describing that more than 400 bodies had been removed from homes. The local media reported that over 450 bodies were registered in a single day on the waiting list to be removed from the local residences.
Fernando Espana, a resident, was reported by an agency as saying in a video that he was tired of calling the 911 service, and the only thing he listened was “wait, meanwhile showing the black plastic-wrapped body. The morgues, cemeteries and funeral homes across the city have been strained, as per reports. President Lenín Moreno acknowledged to a local daily that there were way more deaths than recorded because people were dying at a rate so fast, that the count could not be upheld. Besides, a large number of patients remained untested for the disease.
(With inputs from agencies)