In the face of the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico, some people have chosen, in exchange for a fee of $15,000 pesos, to have death certificates of their loved ones altered to remove the cause of death as probable COVID-19 infection.
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The “managers” or “coyotes” issuing death certificates offer the document stating the cause of death by asthma or atypical pneumonia instead of COVID-19 or probable COVID-19.
As part of a journalistic investigation, Animal Político compiled information on the practices of these “managers”, who are inside a court specially authorized by the Civil Registry at the headquarters of the Sedesa Health Protection Agency, in the mayor’s office of Cuauhtémoc.
By hypothetically asking the “coyote” that a 40-year-old relative with chronic respiratory disease (asthma) has died with symptoms of COVID-19, but without having been tested to confirm, or rule out, the disease, He responded by offering his service packages and guaranteeing, with the help of a doctor, to classify the death as a case of atypical pneumonia, contrary to the law that patients like this be registered as “probable COVID-19”.
Likewise, the service provider stated that after the certificate is issued, the family member will obtain the death certificate in one day, when it generally takes four to seven business days.
The package being offered with a falsified death certificate includes picking up the body in a hearse and keeping it in an embalmer and funeral parlor in the Obrera neighborhood until the family member indicates what they want to do with the body. According to the report, a manager collaborator stated that the advantage of these services is that families can be sure that the ashes correspond to their loved ones.
“It can help you in a matter of what the Ministry of Health (Sedesa) is doing in handling the cremation of the body and giving it to you in a box; The difference with this is that you have the certainty that the body of your family member is cremated, because you cannot watch over the body to avoid contagions if the death is suspected as COVID-19,” he told the journalist in charge of the investigation.
Another aspect that the work reveals is that this practice affects the official statistics on deaths caused by coronavirus disease. Roberto García, vice president of the National Association of Funeral Directors (ANDF), told the media.
Likewise, García explained that the fact that a funeral manager, without being a doctor, has death certificates issued by Sedesa in his possession is illegal.
Animal Político also requested information from the Ministry of Health of Mexico City, an agency that confirmed that it was aware of the presence of funeral “coyotes” outside the courts where death certificates are processed. In addition, it rejected the existence of a partnership between officials and the “managers” to facilitate the issuance of falsified death certificates.
“Of course the problem is identified. To obtain a death certificate, a certified physician must do so. If he dies in hospital, the treating doctor does it there, but, if it is at home, the treating doctor must also do it, or a family doctor, which is not in all cases, and that is why they resort to those ‘managers ‘. But, if 911 is called, the Legal Department sends a doctor who provides the service at no cost,” said the agency in a response sent to said medium.