Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno announced an investigation into reported allegations of mismanagement of the bodies of deceased coronavirus patients, especially at the coastal town of Guayaquil, the epicenter of the South American nation.
Accused of leaving the bodies on the streets to their own fate without proper burial rituals, the government and local officials have faced a barrage of criticisms from relatives of patients who passed away due to COVID-19.
"I arranged @JorgeWated file a complaint on @FiscaliaEcuador to investigate the mismanagement of the deceased in hospital morgues. We will not allow anyone to be buried without their identification. They are brothers who deserve a goodbye with dignity!" Moreno announced on Twitter late Wednesday.
With a population of 17 million, Ecuador has one of the highest official rates of coronavirus infections and deaths in the region.
According to data provided by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 242 deaths and more than 4,400 confirmed cases, but Moreno has admitted the numbers are likely higher.
Temporary morgues have been set up throughout Guayaquil, where government officials are giving local residents cardboard coffins made by companies that usually package bananas.
Since the virus emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has spread to at least 184 countries and regions, infecting nearly 1.5 million people and killing over 88,600. So far, more than 331,700 people have recovered worldwide.