Under the scorching sun, workers are straining without stopping at the cemetery of the vast city of Manaus, digging hundreds of new graves in the red soil to provide a final resting place for the victims of the “Covid-19” epidemic.
The Brazilian city, the capital of the state of Amazonas, has so far known three thousand funerals during January, which recorded the largest number of deaths since the start of the pandemic, with hospitals reaching their maximum capacity due to a significant increase in injuries.
Officially, the virus is responsible for nearly half of these deaths. With the wild spread of the epidemic, the authorities were forced to expand the large cemetery of “Nusa Senora Aparecida” in the city to receive two to three thousand additional bodies.
The roar of the excavator mingles with the wailing of Etienne Ferrera, who kneels on the red soil while weeping her father, whom she just buried.
“Why, Dad?” She asked. Her mourning is paralyzed for seconds by the burial workers who wore protective white uniforms and put on masks, while they lowered coffins wrapped in plastic, indicating that they belonged to victims who died as a result of the new Corona virus.
“We are human, this is very painful,” whispers Michael Guerrero, one of the employees who follows what Etienne is doing.
Etienne’s father died of “Covid-19”, and her cousin Christian Ferreira says that he needed help with breathing, but no beds were available in the hospital. “Doctors and nurses have made the impossible, except that they do not have divine power,” she said, tearful as she hugged Etienne.
Under a yellow plastic tent near a group of graves, another employee writes in black paint on wooden crosses the names of the deceased as well as the date of their birth and death. It performs this task on 70 graves per day.
In the last two weeks, Manaus, which has a population of 2.2 million, recorded more than a hundred burials of Covid-19 victims per day on average, with a record number reaching 213 on January 15.
Family, not graves
Etienne’s mourning echoed in the distance, while Luan Santos, 32, tied the hand of his wife Ashley, who was pregnant in her first month. In the other hand, he holds a wreath that he carried to bid farewell to his mother, who died from the epidemic at the age of 68. Luoan accompanied her for days before he managed to admit her to a public hospital.
He contacted her for the last time on Monday, via a written letter. He went to the hospital several times, without being able to inquire about her condition. He was told Thursday that she was dead.
“I was told that this delay in reporting is due to the large number of people and that it is impossible to respond to this number of people,” said the young man who works in the banking sector.
A cemetery employee handed him official burial documents before the couple set off on a dirt path. As the heat rises, an unpleasant smell emits, which may be the smell of death.
The rig continues its work. At the entrance to the cemetery, funeral processions continued. The number of burial workers has quadrupled. In April 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, the cemetery came to the fore due to the mass graves dug in it.
A man who had come to bury his uncle recalled this nightmare and said in tears: “At least the dead are treated with dignity now. If only they would provide beds in hospitals instead of graves in cemeteries! ”