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Gideon Long in Bogotá

If there is one city in Latin America that shows how devastating the coronavirus might be should it take hold in the region’s shanty towns, ill-equipped hospitals and overcrowded jails, it is the Ecuadorean port of Guayaquil.

Gruesome images have emerged from the city of people dumping the bodies of their relatives in the streets because the local authorities, overwhelmed by the pandemic, have not been able to collect them. Videos posted on social media show coffins on sidewalks in the tropical heat and vultures circling overhead.

“We’ve been waiting for five days,” one man, Fernando España, told a Reuters camera crew as he stood on a street, pointing through the window of his house at what looked like a corpse covered in a plastic sheet. “We’re tired of calling 911 [the emergency services]. They say wait a few minutes, wait half an hour, wait two hours. We’re sick of waiting!”