SHOCKING pictures show the body of a coronavirus victim lying in the street of Ecuador’s capital as the peak is “yet to come”.
The images from Quito emerged after the death toll across Latin America passed 15,000 with warnings saying the coronavirus pandemic is yet to reach a peak in the region.
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Forensics experts were spotted dealing with the corpse of a 65-year-old man who had been suspected of contracting the Covid-19 virus in Quito on Tuesday.
Funeral directors were later seen loading the body into a coffin and driving away.
The latest figures from Worldometers show Ecuador has had more than 31,000 confirmed cases, with 1,569 deaths.
The toll across Latin America and the Caribbean passed 15,000 on Wednesday, with more than 280,000 cases reported.
Brazil is the worst affected Latin-American country with 114,715 cases and 7,921 fatalities.
Behind Brazil is Mexico with 2,271 deaths and 26,025 cases.
Third in the grim rankings is Ecuador.
Experts say though the pandemic will reach a peak across the region in the coming days.
A number of countries, including Ecuador, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, have already extended their lockdown measures in an attempt to bring the spread of the deadly disease under control.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has asked governments to be “cautious” when they begin to loosen restrictions, warning that virus transmission remains “very high” in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Mexico.
Brazil was the first country in the region to report a case of the novel coronavirus on February 26.
One of Ecuador’s indigenous communities fears it could be wiped out and dozens of its members have fled into the Amazon rainforest for shelter.
The Siekopai nation along the border between Ecuador and Peru, with some 744 members, has 15 confirmed cases of the virus and two elderly leaders died in the last two weeks after showing symptoms of COVID-19, the group said.
A large number of Siekopai have presented symptoms related to the outbreak but, after they sought help from a government health centre in nearby Tarapoa city, doctors told them they just had a “nasty flu,” community President Justino Piaguaje said.
When the first of the elderly died in mid-April, Siekopai leaders urged Ecuador’s government to fence off the community and test the inhabitants but have received no response, he said.
“There are barely 700 of us. In the past we were victims of this type of disease and today we don’t want history to be repeated,” Piaguaje said in a meeting held via social media on Monday.
“We don’t want our people saying that there were 700 of us and now there are 100. What a scandal it would be for the Ecuadorian government to leave us with such a sad story in the 21st century,” he added.
Fearful of the coronavirus, dozens of children and elderly Siekopai fled in canoes to Lagartococha, one of Ecuador’s largest wetlands in the heart of the jungle, to avoid infection.
Siekopai who stayed behind in their territory in Ecuador’s Sucumbios province are turning to homeopathic medicines to cope with respiratory problems, said Piaguaje.
Other indigenous groups in Ecuador’s Amazon also have confirmed coronavirus cases, according to indigenous organisation CONFENIAE. Ecuador has reported more than 30,000 cases.
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In neighbouring Peru, indigenous groups submitted a formal complaint to the United Nations in late April, saying the government had left them to fend for themselves against the coronavirus, risking “ethnocide by inaction.”
Human rights organisations working in Ecuador’s Amazonian regions say the health ministry is neglecting communities like the Siekopai, who have yet to receive tests or medical supplies despite their vulnerability.
“They are in serious risk of being physically and culturally wiped out by the spread of COVID-19 in their territory,” said Maria Espinosa, a human rights defender with the group Amazon Frontlines.
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