00:35 GMT06 July 2020
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    The South American country has a relatively small number of coronavirus cases (10,495) and deaths (445) compared with Europe and the West, but the pandemic has already put pressure on the nation's healthcare and funeral systems.

    Colombian company ABC Displays has designed a hospital bed that can be transformed into a coffin amid news of shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported. The bed is made of cardboard and has metal handles on the sides and can hold up to 330 pounds (150 kilograms).

    The company’s director Rodolfo Gomez said he came up with the idea after hearing news about the events in neighbouring Ecuador. Residents of Guayaquil have spent days with their deceased loved ones in homes due to the shortage of coffins. Many could not even afford wooden coffins and were using donated cardboard instead.

    Gomez said his company worked with a private clinic on the design of its product, which will cost $85. He said his company plans to donate 10 coffins to Colombia’s Amazonas Department, where resources are scarce.

    Rodolfo Gomez, left, and his employees demonstrate how their design of a cardboard box can serve as both a hospital bed and a coffin
    © AP Photo / Fernando Vergara
    Rodolfo Gomez, left, and his employees demonstrate how their design of a cardboard box can serve as both a hospital bed and a coffin

    One doctor was skeptical about the bed’s sturdiness and warned that patients that died from coronavirus should be put in body bags before placed in cardboard coffins to avoid the spread of the disease.

    "There is no aid here. If you get sick, you die and that’s the truth"

    Colombia’s Amazonas Department has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of infected reaching 430 people. But it is not the number of cases, but the lack of medical equipment that makes the situation dire.

    "The high number of infections in this city worries us because we do not have the resources. If this is not given the most attention, we are on the verge of disappearing, especially indigenous peoples, who are the most vulnerable", wrote Camilo Suarez, deputy of the Green Alliance for the Department of Amazonas in a letter to the country’s president Ivan Duque asking to provide medical assistance. On 8 May, Suarez passed away while waiting for the results of her coronavirus test.

    The situation in Amazonas and Colombia in general has been exacerbated by the lack of personal protection of equipment (PPE) for doctors. According to the Colombian Medical Federation, only 12 percent of medical workers have access to PPE. Local weekly Semana said 26 health workers were flown to the city of Leticia after staff at a hospital collectively resigned in protest over the lack of PPE and medical equipment.

    Local football player Luis Mosquera said the government not only failed to provide medical aid, but also never sent economic aid that would allow residents to stay at home.

    "There is no aid here. If you get sick, you die and that’s the truth”, Mosquera told Colombia Reports.
    Tags:
    Ecuador, medical aid, financial aid, coronavirus, Amazonas, Colombia
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