Ecuador city runs out of coffins amid COVID-19 crisis
QUITO, April 6, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Soaring numbers of COVID-19 deaths in
Ecuador’s second city Guayaquil have led to a shortage of coffins, forcing
locals to resort to using cardboard boxes, city authorities said Sunday.
Authorities in the Pacific port city said they had received a donation of
1,000 pressed cardboard caskets from local producers, and delivered them for
use in two local cemeteries.
“It’s so they can meet demand,” a city hall spokesman told AFP. “There are
either no coffins in the city or they are extremely expensive.”
Businessman Santiago Olivares, who owns a chain of funeral homes, said his
company was unable to keep up with demand.
“I sold the 40 that I had at the downtown branch, and 40 others from my
headquarters. I had to order 10 more at the weekend and they’ve run out,”
Olivares told AFP.
The cheapest coffins currently cost around $400.
Olivares said a 15-hour curfew in the city was contributing to the shortage
of basic raw materials for coffin makers like wood and metal.
Last week, residents posted videos on social media showing abandoned bodies
in the streets in the Latin American city worst hit by the pandemic.
The government called in troops to pick up 150 corpses from streets and
homes earlier this week after mortuary workers in the city were unable to
keep up with a backlog of removals.
The cardboard coffins “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.
Ecuador reported 3,646 cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, including 180
deaths, the majority of them occurring in Guayaquil and its surrounding
province of Guayas.