MEXICO CITY.- The crematoriums in the Mexican capital are at the limit of their capacity when the country has not yet reached the peak of contagions and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, while funeral homes suggest the use of graves to house the deceased.
The Mexican government, which declared last week to have entered the phase of greatest expansion of the pandemic, plans to reach the maximum number of infections on May 10 and that the disease leaves up to 8,000 dead in the country.
So far, there are 1,859 dead and 19,224 confirmed, with the Mexican capital being the main focus: 328 dead and 4,152 infected.
“We are already experiencing it in Mexico City. The crematoriums available are already reaching 100% of their capacity today,” the vice president of the National Association of Funeral Directors (ANDF), Roberto García, acknowledged this Friday. .
In a telephone interview, he ruled out that the Mexican funeral system had collapsed, but warned that in the capital “it will be hard to work” having crematoriums or cemetery spaces.
PITS FOR DECONSENSING CREMATORIES
The most affected area of Mexico City is the populous city hall of Iztapalapa where the San Nicolás pantheon has gone from burning about five bodies a day to about 20.
“Yes, it has changed a little, there is more work, you have to change one quickly and get out,” said the creammaker Sacramento, who has to put on a jumpsuit every time a dead man arrives for COVID-19, whose body takes out of the coffin and He gets into the crematorium, where it takes three hours to be cremated.
This increase has also been noted by private funeral homes. The eight crematoriums of the J. García López company are cremating a total of 25 bodies a day. “If we reach 30, we will be in a complex situation,” its director, Manuel Ramírez, explained to Efe.
Although the Government of Mexico issued a manual recommending cremation as the best option for those killed by COVID-19, the use of graves is booming as an alternative to decongest crematoria.
The authorities do not allow the bodies of the deceased to be transferred from the capital to other less congested territories, so the alternative is “to bury the bodies in graves inside the cemeteries,” said the ANDF vice president.
“The official cemeteries, which are from the Government, are already opening availability,” García explained, comparing this situation with the 1985 earthquake that left thousands dead.
The Government of Mexico City does not know the number of graves in the capital, but asked the different mayors, in charge of managing the cemeteries, to provide enough.
CEREMONIES AND RESTRICTED CEMETERIES
The pandemic has completely altered the way of dismissing the deceased in a country with a very unique tradition of death.
Cemeteries in the capital, such as that of San Nicolás, in Iztapalapa, have restricted access and only allow 15 family members to pass through burial, five due to cremation and only one if the deceased died of COVID-19, which is generating outrage among the people who stayedoutside.
“These idiocies of entering the pantheon … I know there are many diseases, but if they are already dead,” Brenda, who went to say goodbye to her uncle, who died of a heart attack, complained to the Iztapalapa pantheon.
This cemetery restricted access to the press after the mishandling of the material used to treat those killed by COVID-19 came to light. In addition, Efe found that security personnel allow themselves to be bribed to allow more family members to pass than allowed and even groups of mariachis.
In the wake of the pandemic, authorities recommend that the deceased be taken directly to cremation from the hospital or home where they died, although four-hour vigils with a maximum of 20 people are allowed.
“With quarantine, people die in isolation. We have to break the chain of loneliness and allow family members to say goodbye respecting the healthy distance,” said the director of J.García López.
Instead, the Gayosso Group, another of the great Mexican funeral homes, decided for security reasons not to allow funerals “from the beginning of the contingency,” said its director of operations, Alejandro Sosa, whose company offers funeral services by “streaming”.
Faced with these innovative alternatives, irregular practices also grow in Mexico and especially in its capital, from small funeral homes that do not follow the law to people who offer clandestine mortuary services at the doors of hospitals.
“Here in Mexico there is a lot of what we call coyotaje, which are people who offer their services outside of hospitals and have no facilities, no training,” said the ANDF vice president.
Roberto García asked families to avoid falling into the hands of these clandestine companies, because “they profit from the price and do not follow the regulations, thereby putting attendees and families at risk.”
It is estimated that of the 5,000 funeral homes in Mexico, 60% are informal.