Guayaquil has become a regional hotspot for coronaviruses, and hospitals and morgues have been overwhelmed, forcing some families to store bodies at home.
“It looks like a war zone hospital. The things we saw came straight out of a horror movie, “a doctor at Teodoro Maldonado Carbo Hospital, one of the city’s largest facilities, told the Guardian. “My wife doesn’t want me to go to work. But if I don’t, more patients will die. “
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Health said on Saturday that 172 Covid-19 deaths had been recorded, including 122 in the province of Guayas, of which Guayaquil is the capital. The low test rates mean that the real figure is almost certainly higher. Ecuador has officially registered 3,465 cases of coronavirus, the third highest number in South America after Brazil and Chile.
A regional politician, Carlos Luis Morales, told CNN en Español that officials had been instructed not to release statistics on the number of deaths in Guayas. But he added, “Just to give you an idea, 480 death certificates have been issued since yesterday. One hundred and fifty bodies are collected every day. “
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno said that almost 3,500 people could die in Guayas in the coming weeks, while the town hall of Guayaqyuil said on Saturday that he would distribute 2,000 cardboard coffins “to offer a dignified burial to those who die in this health emergency”.
Jorge Wated, the official responsible for Guayaquil’s response to the crisis, announced the creation of a WhatsApp helpline for victims. “Please note: those who request the removal of the deceased from their home can write to us on this number”, he tweeted.
The Ecuadorian government has been criticized for its response to the coronavirus and for its failure to effectively apply quarantine to Guayaquil as the infection spreads.
“When the virus first appeared in China, we thought it would never reach this place,” Morales told CNN in Español. “Now it’s in each of us. We breathe it. It’s in the atmosphere. “
Vice President of Ecuador, Otto Sonnenholzner, televised to the nation on Saturday for the horrific images from Guayaquil showing corpses being thrown on the sidewalks or outside of homes.
“I give you my word that I am doing everything in my power to save as many lives as possible,” said Sonnenholzner. “This crisis concerns neither the left nor the right. Rich or poor. This virus does not care about religion, race or social status. All it’s trying to do is spread. Its risk of transmission is something that humanity has never seen before. “