Coronavirus bodies piling up on Caribbean island after only undertaker gets sick

Bodies of coronavirus victims are piling up on a popular Caribbean island after their only funeral home was forced to close when staff fell seriously ill.

The Colombian Caribbean island of San Andres is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, with total cases more than doubling from 115 to 293 between August 30 and September 15.

At least seven bodies are now stacked up in the morgue as the tourist hotspot island's only undertaker had to be flown to the mainland for emergency hospital treatment this week.

Her son is also infected, leaving the funeral home operating staffed by only one person, ElTiempo reports.

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The island's Secretary of Public Services has called for help from Columbia.

Governor Everth Hawkins Sjogreen said: "We are short of staff who know the protocols for safely handling and burying those killed by Covid-19.

"We are [also] completing a new crematorium to comply with the protocols."

He said that 700 new vaults are also being built in the cemetery and the island is buying more refrigerated body containers so that "people [do not] rot on us, as that spreads more viruses".

The island is installing 17 new intensive care units to deal with the emerging crisis, but still desperately needs oxygen and other medical equipment.

Island authorities have enforced a curfew from five in the afternoon to five in the morning from September 17, just as it prepares to welcome tourists.

Tourism is the main source of income for the 70,000 locals of San Andres. An uncontrolled re-emergence of coronavirus could spell disaster for the local economy.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Colombia is one of the hardest hit countries in the world. It has so far registered 736,377 cases of COVID-19, with 23,478 deaths.

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