QUITO – The Tabacundo metalworking factory, owned by the council of the Ecuadorian province of Pichincha, the capital of which is Quito, has changed its production line to manufacture coffins to provide a dignified burial for those who die from the novel coronavirus, while hoping that such coffins won’t be used.
The factory was formerly dedicated to producing metal sports equipment to be installed in parks throughout the province, but now its director Andres Salas is rushing to get a batch of coffins ready.
He’s optimistic and believes that the coffins won’t be used in Pichincha, although he told EFE that he and his colleagues make each of them with the sorrow in mind of what has happened in the city of Guayaquil, where many of the dead were not treated or buried in a dignified manner.
The provincial Emergency Operations Committee estimates that the pandemic curve in Pichincha will hit its peak around May 17, and the factory anticipates delivering 320 coffins just to have them ready.
If the authorities in Guayas, whose capital is Guayaquil, require it, the Tabacundo factory is prepared to redouble its operations to support their “Guayaquil brothers,” Salas said.
The coffins are simple, made of wood and with finishing touches such as a religious motif on the lid, so that the dead can “have a dignified burial” by their relatives.
Salas said that, as well as the coffins, the industry has developed several “disinfection arches,” devices to be placed in food collection centers across the province of Pichincha.
For its new production line, the factory, located in the Tabacundo sector, some 60 kilometers north of Quito, has a “minimum contingent” of workers – “only those necessary” who work with “all the recommended health safety measures.”
The work began about eight days ago, Pichincha Prefect Paola Pabon told EFE, adding that although the focus of the coronavirus outbreak in Ecuador is in the province of Guayas, Pichincha is the second most affected.
According to the latest official report, 7,858 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country, 5,551 of them in Guayas, followed by Pichincha with 674 cases.
The spread of the virus in the province is still on the rise, which has forced several precautionary measures to be taken in case of an increase of the epidemic.
It’s for this reason the metalworking factory has been activated to manufacture coffins and disinfection arches, but the provincial council has also set up “a protocol for handling corpses and funerals with dignity,” said Pabon.
However, she pointed out that the administration has focused primarily on assisting the poor, who are hardest hit.
She added that the province’s assistance programs include “solidarity baskets,” which include fresh and well-treated food, and sent to poor families in various municipalities of the province.