Ecuador is rush-ordering thousands of cardboard coffins to try to cope with coronavirus victims otherwise left rotting in the street, officials say.
The nation’s second city, Guayaquil, has started getting a donation of 2,000 pressed cardboard caskets from local producers — and is ordering even more to help overwhelmed local cemeteries, Agence France-Presse says.
The port city of more than 2 million is also getting refrigerated trailers to help store the dead currently overwhelming city hospitals — with Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, also planning a “special camp” to bury the 3,500 he fears could die in the pandemic, AFP says.
It follows disturbing images of bodies left lying in the street, as well as troubling reports of residents trapped in homes for days with the corpses of their loved ones.
“It’s so they can meet demand,” a city hall spokesman told AFP of the cardboard coffins. “There are either no coffins in the city or they are extremely expensive.”
While only cardboard, they “will be a great help in providing a dignified burial for people who died during this health emergency,” the Guayaquil mayor’s office wrote on Twitter. A phone number was listed for people who needed corpses removed from their homes.
Even Guayaquil’s mayor, Mayor Cynthia Viteri, is among those infected. Viteri — one of those who angrily attacked the government for corpses left in the street — has ordered refrigerated containers at public hospitals to preserve bodies until graves were prepared.
Ecuador — the worst-hit nation in Latin America — had recorded 180 deaths from the contagion and 3,646 confirmed infections as of Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
But President Moreno admits the real death toll is far higher — saying authorities were collecting more than 100 bodies a day. “The reality always exceeds the number of tests and the speed with which we can act,” Moreno has said in televised comments. “We’re building a special camp for the fallen,” he said.
With Post wires
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