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In the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, COVID-19 would on average claim the lives of 45 people. At the peak of the outbreak however, this figure rose to 600 per day.
Now six weeks have passed since the height of the outbreak in early April and authorities are still struggling to identify around 90 bodies.
Ecuador has seen over 34,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 2,800 deaths. Many believe the true numbers to be much higher with one official reporting that thousands more may have died of the disease than the government is reporting.
Guayaquil, a city of three million, has seen most of these deaths and as the city’s death toll grew, authorities lost the ability to record the deaths, identify and bury the victims.
Speaking to The New York Times, a man from Guayaquil received the ashes of his mother only to later discover that her body was in fact buried in a cemetery. A local woman returned to her family, alive, after officials pronounced her dead.
Elizabeth Narváez is still searching for the body of her brother-in-law, Luis Fernando Yépez after last seeing him on March 30 in the hospital where he died the next day.
Now officials have told Narváez that while they believe to have found Yépez’s body, it is too decomposed to identify with fingerprints.
She now has to wait several weeks before DNA results are released.
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