Torment in Ecuador: virus dead piled up in bathrooms
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by AFP reporters with Paola LOPEZ in Quito
Front line medics in one of Latin America’s coronavirus epicenters are lifting the lid on the daily horrors they face in an Ecuadoran city whose health system has collapsed.
In one hospital in Guayaquil overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, staff have had to pile up bodies in bathrooms because the morgues are full, health workers say.
In another, a medic told AFP that doctors have been forced to wrap up and store corpses to be able to reuse the beds they died on.Ecuador has recorded close to 23,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 600 deaths, with Guayaquil by far its worst affected city. But the real toll is thought to be far higher.
A 35-year-old nurse at the first hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the trauma of what he saw had affected him professionally and personally.
When the health emergency broke out in March, every nurse went from caring for 15 patients to 30 in the space of just 24 hours, he added.
“So many people arrived that… they were practically dying in our hands,” said the nurse.
Patients were discharged or referred to other facilities “to free up all these beds” for coronavirus patients, he told AFP.
“They took out anesthesia machines from operating rooms to replace them with ventilators.
“People are alone, sad, the treatment wreaks havoc on the gastrointestinal tract, some defecate; they feel bad and think they will always feel that way, and they see that the person next to them starts to suffocate and scream that they need oxygen.”
It isn’t just hospitals that have been overwhelmed, but morgues too.
“The morgue staff wouldn’t take any more, so many times we had to wrap up bodies and store them in the bathrooms,” the nurse said.
Only when the bodies were “stacked up six or seven high did they come to collect them.”
A 26-year-old colleague, also a nurse, confirmed the chaotic scenes.
“There were many dead in the bathrooms, many lying on the floors, many dead in armchairs,” she told AFP. (AFP)