May 3, 2020 / 3:31 AM / a month ago

Mexican families protest at hospital hit by coronavirus

ECATEPEC, Mexico (Reuters) - Families in a poor satellite city of Mexico’s capital with one of the country’s most number of coronavirus cases have protested to demand news of sick relatives and return of bodies of the dead after videos surfaced showing cadavers at a hospital.

Men wearing protective masks are pictured at Hospital General las Americas after people organized protests to demand news about their sick relatives and the return of the bodies of those who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mexico City, Mexico May 2, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

One video of the Las Americas general hospital in Ecatepec that was posted to social media showed several bagged bodies on stretchers, some in a small room and others outside lined against a courtyard wall.

“The only thing I demand is that they give me the full body of my son,” Maria Dolores Carrillo told television program Imagen on Friday evening after her son died at the hospital.

Another video from Friday showed upset family members who had apparently forced their way into the hospital. They shouted in a crowded hallway in a confrontation with police, demanding news of their relatives.

Fernanda Garcia, 48, said she saw the group become upset after hospital staff said they would not be releasing patient information. “The family members became angry because many had been here for days without news of their relatives.”

Her husband died at the hospital on Friday evening after being admitted with respiratory problems, and his body has since been delivered to the family, she said.

Ecatepec, a working class city of more than 1.7 million inhabitants outside Mexico City, has registered 407 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 28 deaths, according to data from Mexico’s health ministry.

It is among the Mexican municipalities worst affected by the virus, which initially hit the more affluent parts of Latin America but is now spreading in poor neighborhoods.

State of Mexico authorities said in a statement that the Las Americas hospital, which is run by the state health ministry, would try to hasten the delivery of bodies to families.

“Coordination with funeral homes in the area has been strengthened with the aim to speed up the delivery of bodies and avoid the saturation in the Pathology Area of the Las Americas hospital,” the State of Mexico government said.

Officials also they would work to improve communication with families, but that hospital visits were prohibited to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Some family members on Saturday blocked a highway outside the hospital, demanding the release of a relative’s body, television program Milenio reported.

Jose Luis Ortega, 46, whose sister is in the hospital being tested for the virus, said it was difficult to receive information only by telephone.

“We have a right as citizens, as humans ... to be informed of what is happening,” he said.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Roberto Ramirez, additional reporting by Abraham Gonzalez; Editing by Alistair Bell and Himani Sarkar

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