Bodies left on the street for days

 

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

In Ecuador's largest city of Guayaquil, the bodies of coronavirus victims are being left on the streets or kept inside family homes for days.

Officially, about 120 deaths have been reported across the country, with more than 80 in Guayaquil. But President Lenin Moreno says the numbers are "short" as authorities have been unable to keep up with the virus' spread.

"The reality always exceeds the number of tests and the speed with which we can act," he said in televised comments.

 

A unit of police officers and soldiers have been tasked with burying coronavirus victims, but they're now collecting as many as 150 bodies a day from homes in Guayaquil, up from 30 several days ago, Mr Moreno said.

Meanwhile, residents have complained they have no way to dispose of relatives' remains due to strict quarantine and curfew measures designed to prevent spread of the virus.

Several locals have taken to social media to appeal for help, posting videos of dead relatives lying in their residences.

Others families have left bodies in the street for authorities to collect - some said to be lying there for three days.

 

A coffin with a coronavirus victim inside lays wrapped in plastic and covered with cardboard, outside a block of family apartments. Picture: AP/Filiberto Faustos
A coffin with a coronavirus victim inside lays wrapped in plastic and covered with cardboard, outside a block of family apartments. Picture: AP/Filiberto Faustos

Locals worry the bodies could risk spreading the disease further, while others have complained of the smell.

One woman, Rosa Romero, said her 43-year-old husband, Bolivar Reyes, died after suffering symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but was never tested.

His remains stayed inside her home in a poor area of northern Guayaquil for more than a day because crews tasked with removing bodies were unable to keep up, she said.

The government is now building a "special camp" for coronavirus victims in Guayaquil, with the death toll expected to continue climbing.

Mr Moreno said the total number of deaths in Guayaquil's surrounding province of Guayas, home to 3.8 million Ecuadoreans, was expected to reach between 2,500 and 3,500.

"We're building a special camp for the fallen," he said.

More than one million cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across 181 countries and more than 58,000 people have died.

Originally published as Bodies left on the street for days



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