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Ecuador: the drama of Guayaquil, a city that has more deaths from Coronavirus than entire countries in the region

To the thousands of images of empty cities and collapsed hospitals from around the world, videos and testimonies from the Ecuatorian city of Guayaquil about people dying in the streets and bodies waiting days to be collected from homes multiplied in the last week.

According to the latest official data, the province of Guayas, where Guayaquil is located, has more victims of covid-19 than entire Latin American nations: 3,368 infected and 145 dead. However, it seems that the government is not showing the truth.

Hundreds of bodies have been found on the streets, abandoned for days, while doctors claim to be overwhelemed by the situation.

"My uncle died on March 28 and no one comes to help us. We live in the northwest of the city. Hospitals told him they had no stretchers and he died at home. We called 911 and we were asked to be patient. The body is still there in bed, where he died, because nobody can touch him or anything like that," says Jésica Castañeda, niece of Segundo Castañeda.

Another young Guayaquil woman who lives in the southeast of Guayaquil and who asked that her name not be released, reported that her father died in her arms and spent 24 hours at home.

"They never tested him for the coronavirus, they just told us that they could schedule us an appointment and that he should take paracetamol. We had to remove the body with the help of others because we had no response from the State. One feels helpless when seeing his father like this and going out to ask for help."

But this situation does not only affect those killed by the virus. Wendy Noboa, who lives in the north of Guayaquil, near the bus terminal, tells the story of her neighbor Gorky Pazmiño, who died on Sunday, March 29:

"He fell and died due to a blow to the head. I called 911 and they never came. He lived with his father, who is over 96 years old, that's why my anguish. He stayed in the apartment for a whole day, until family members came with the coffin to bury him. But they couldn't bury him because there was no doctor to sign the death certificate."

The collapse of the funeral system as a result of this crisis is of such magnitude that the President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, had to form a joint task force in order to bury all the deceased.

However, for engineer Jorge Wated, what happens today in Guayaquil can happen anywhere on the continent.

"I see what happens in the rest of Latin America, for example, what happens in Argentina today, and it is what happened here three weeks ago; things are going to get complicated, depending on each country, we are trying to act as fast as we can. "

The writer Milan Kundera said in his book Lentitud ("Slowness") that speed was directly proportional to oblivion. It is difficult to think that no matter how fast the authorities act in these hours, someone in Guayaquil forgets these last seven days of terror.

For example, in the last hours, Vistazo Magazine reported that on the night of March 30, a video circulated with a group of people in the southwest of Guayaquil, burning tires to demand the removal of a corpse.

"Even the residents would have threatened to burn the body of the deceased, in protest," the news closes.

La Nación
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