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Panama to rent cadaver containers in face of health system collapse

The Panamanian government plans to rent refrigerated containers in which to store the dead in the face of the collapse of morgues and hospitals due to the pandemic, which has forced the Central American nation to decree a total quarantine in part of its territory.

“We are looking at the issue of container rentals to help existing morgues within our hospitals,” said the national director of provision of the Ministry of Health, Yelkis Gill, during an interview on Telemetro channel on Tuesday.

These air-conditioned containers will be able to store the bodies of the deceased for a period of up to a week while relatives carry out the corresponding bureaucratic procedures, the official said.

The containers would be installed “where there is a crisis,” such as the provinces of Panama, where the capital is located; neighboring Panama Oeste; Colón, on the Pacific; and Chiriquí, on the border with Costa Rica.

Panama, with 4.2 million inhabitants, is the Central American country that has registered the most COVID-19 infections, with more than 281,000 accumulated cases and 4,500 deaths.

The country is in the midst of a spiking outbreak of the pandemic. In the last 39 days, Panama has registered more than a third (100,000 cases) of total infections and more than a quarter (1,326 cases) of total deaths.

The situation has caused the government to decree, since last January 4 and until next Thursday, a total quarantine in the capital and in the province of Panama Oeste.

Faced with the avalanche of cases, the authorities have had to set up different infrastructure and install field hospitals to care for the sick.

Panama expects to receive the first 40,000 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer in the next few days, within a contract for $36 million with this laboratory for the phased acquisition of 3 million doses.

In total, the government expects to receive 5.5 million doses from three different laboratories, for which it will pay $55 million.

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