It takes seven hours to collect corpses suspected of COVID-19 in Zulia state

Neighbors of Perija, in Zulia state, report delays in collecting probable deaths from COVID-19. Civil Protection says it does not have enough biohazard suits and equipment for the removal of those bodies.

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It can take Civil Protection in Rosario de Perija, Zulia, up to seven hours to remove a body due to gasoline shortages as well as lack of gloves, transport, and even difficulties with the public plots in the local cemetery.

The inhabitants of the municipality of Rosario de Perija, Zulia state, denounce that it takes Civil Protection to up seven hours to remove the bodies of those likely to have died from COVID-19.

The virus is peaking in Venezuela. The cases have more than doubled to 13,164 over the last three weeks. And Zulia is the hardest-hit state, with some 20% of all cases.

Authorities in Perija argue that the delay in the removal of the bodies is by the lack of necessary supplies (including gasoline for the ambulance or hearse) and tools and implements to comply biosecurity protocols for the collection.

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The lack of protective tools and equipment puts at risk the health of family members and Civil Protection officials in charge of removing the bodies of people who were hospitalized or in their homes when they died.

Other problems that affect the collection process are the lack of gasoline for mobilizing personnel, oil and fuel for the fumigation machine, gloves, transportation, and even difficulties with the public vaults or plots in the local cemetery.

Gabriel Vizliquez, representative of Civil Protection in the municipality, said in a local radio interview, that until this Tuesday, July 21, they only had four biosecurity suits.

“I must say that we had been using the suits for three months and that they are deteriorating. We were constantly disinfecting them, even though the protocol says that every time you use protective equipment, it must get discarded, but we clean it and sterilize it as much as possible.”

Vizliquez said they are willing to comply, but because of the lack of tools, he cannot put the lives of his team at risk.

I cannot be irresponsible and send out my staff without the biosecurity equipment, we must comply with the protocols for the public security in the municipality,” the official said.

The head of the organization indicated that there are also failures in forensic bags, which have specials characteristics, made of resistant material such as polyethylene, 2.30 meters in length, and hermetically sealed for the body of the positives or suspected COVID-19 case.

He insists that they should use appropriate bags otherwise, it could generate a focus of infection in the municipal cemetery.

Activating solidarity

Representatives of the association of merchants and industrialists of La Villa and the Association of Dairy Transporters of the state of Zulia donated this week biosafety suits and other protective equipment for the officials of epidemiology and Civil Protection in the municipality.

Avelino Moran, president of the Merchants Association, reported that they delivered 17 bio-security coveralls with boot covers and caps, as well as 120 pairs of gloves.

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