By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - In Guayaquil, ground zero for the spread of COVID-19 in Ecuador, dead bodies have been piling up on the streets, in hospitals and inside houses.
According to official records, 70% of the country's cases are located in the city of Guayaquil, where 2,243 of the 3,163 cases nationwide have been registered.
The mayor of Guayaquil, Cynthia Viteri, requested on Thursday that the Ecuadorian government allow the municipality she leads to remove the bodies of those who died from the COVID-19 disease or other circumstances, as a result of the “alarming situation” the coastal city is going through due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"In view of the alarming situation caused by the removal of fatal victims led by the Joint Task Force appointed by the Government, we ask the competent authorities to authorize that we remove the bodies that remain in the houses," reads a message on the Twitter account of the local leader.
Vteri described a Dantean scene: “There are bodies in houses, on sidewalks, and on street corners. The morgue is totally collapsed because of the number of deaths," she added.
The task Force reported that it is collecting 100 bodies from the streets everyday.
According to local media, many families have been locked up with the bodies of their relatives for up to four days and are still waiting for forensics to remove them.
On March 30, Guayaquil City Councilor Andres Guschmer reported on Twitter that more than 400 bodies had been removed from their homes and local media said on Tuesday that almost 450 bodies were registered on the waiting list to be removed from the houses.
The government has reported over 3,163 cases and 120 deaths across the country, but authorities point out that many more people have died without being tested.
President Lenín Moreno acknowledged that there may be many more deaths than are being reported officially, because the reality "always exceeds the number of tests and the speed" with which they are carried out.