A coffin mounted on an old wheelbarrow displayed on the street symbolizes the helplessness of the inhabitants of Cochabamba, in central Bolivia, who cannot bury the corpse of a neighbor who died of a coronavirus seven days ago.
Rolando P. Z. passed away at 62 years of age at his home. The body of the former bus driver remained there until Saturday, about 30 meters from the place where the residents are protesting because he has not been buried since last Sunday.
Her eldest daughter, Jenny, 15, mourns her father’s death. He lost it after hours of “asking the ambulances for help because he lacked oxygen and they didn’t feel like coming.”
Funeral companies complained this week that they could not carry out burials in the central cemetery due to lack of space and that they had to wait up to three days to incinerate the bodies due to the saturation of the only crematorium in the city.
Wearing a protective mask, Jenny fears that her family will suffer the same fate. In addition to Jenny, five other people live in the house, including her mother, grandmother, and sister.
“Our lungs hurt, our heads hurt, our bodies hurt” and the health authorities “I don’t know what they are doing,” he protests.
Another of the inhabitants of the deceased’s house, Bonifacio Ríos, tells AFP that there are already five people killed by the coronavirus in the neighborhood. They are “Rolando, another one half a block from the house and three others on Simón López Avenue”, which intersects with Beijing Street, where the residents set up a coffin this Saturday to attract the attention of the media.
After a few hours of protests from neighbors, the health authorities collected Rolando’s body and took it to an unknown destination. “We do not know if they are going to bury it or they are going to cremate it, there is plenty of impotence,” says Bonifacio.
The situation of the relatives and neighbors of the house is still uncertain due to the secrecy of the health officials.
“They come to see them and then they leave and they do not give an answer as to whether they have been infected,” says Remberto Arnez, president of the Base Territorial Organization, a sort of neighborhood council in the San Lorenzo neighborhood.
The Cochabamba region is the third most affected in the country by covid-19, after Santa Cruz (east) and Beni (northeast).
According to a Municipal Risk Index, 45% of the municipalities of Cochabamba are in the red zone of coronavirus contagion.
The head of the epidemiology unit of the Ministry of Health, Virgilio Prieto, estimated that with more than a thousand infected with coronavirus per day, Bolivia is heading towards an “explosive pandemic” that could add 130,000 cases in mid-September.
str-rb / dga