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Ecuador is using cardboard boxes to bury dead amid coronavirus pandemic

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Facing an overwhelming amount of corpses and shortage of coffins, residents in Ecuador's coastal city of Guayaquil are using cardboard boxes to give their dead proper burials. Morgues, funeral parlors and hospitals in Guayaquil, the epicenter of Ecuador's coronavirus crisis, are dealing with a challenging load of bodies.

Limited by government restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, residents of the city complained last week about bodies piling up on the streets or rotting inside homes for days. Its mayor delivered three containers to act as a makeshift morgue. The city announced Saturday that it's giving out 2,000 pressed cardboard boxes to people to give deceased loved ones a "dignified burial" during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ecuadorian government also established a hotline for people to notify authorities so they can pick up remains. Jorge Wated, the government official appointed by Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno to address the dead bodies during the coronavirus crisis, said Monday that his task force is picking up remains on the same day as phone calls are made after a backlog. 

Coronavirus Overwhelms Guayaquil
Relatives of the diseased wait outside the Guasmo Sur Hospital to recover their remains as a car transports a casket in Guayaquil, Ecuador.  Getty

"Today we were working in the south of Guayaquil picking up the dead reported today; we express our condolences to their family members and we gave them the peace of mind that they will be buried in a dignified, personal manner, free of cost," Wated tweeted.  

Ecuador has reported more than 3,700 confirmed coronavirus cases, most of them in Guayaquil, according to Johns Hopkins' data map. At least 191 people in Ecuador have died. However, Wated said in a recent televised address that he expects more difficult times are ahead for the South American nation, especially in the Guayas province where Guayaquil is located. 

"The medical experts have unfortunately told us that they estimate that the deaths in the coming months will be between 2,500 to 3,500 from COVID-19 just in the province of Guayas," Wated said. "That's what we are preparing for."

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