Police Collect Nearly 800 Bodies From Ecuador Homes

Ecuador is so overwhelmed by the novel coronavirus epidemic that corpses are being left in the streets.

Soldiers distribute food to poor people quarantined by the coronavirus in Zambiza, near Quito, Ecuador. (AP photo/Dolores Ochoa)

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (AFP) — 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 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 been buried by the authorities.

Ecuador has reported 7,500 cases of the coronavirus since the first diagnosis was confirmed on Feb. 29.

The coastal province of Guayas accounts for more than 70% 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 Ecuadorean 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.”

© Agence France-Presse  

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