A secret embalming center was located in a house on the outskirts of Mexico City with a couple of corpses on stretchers, one of them apparently a victim of COVID-19, authorities said Wednesday.
Mariela Gutiérrez, mayor of the municipality of Tecámac, north of the capital, said that the authorities are investigating since when the illegal embalming was carried out, those responsible disposed of the fluids extracted from the bodies in plastic containers.
“The above constitutes a very serious risk of contagion, in addition to a terrible disrespect for sanitary regulations,” said the official.
According to Gutiérrez, one of the two men detained at the house stated that the clandestine center was used because the funeral homes in the area were saturated with corpses due to the pandemic. One of the two bodies found at the scene was that of a municipal employee who had been granted sick leave because she was reportedly infected with the coronavirus.
“They did not have the minimum sanitation measures or permits,” Gutiérrez said, referring to the detainees, who reportedly worked for a funeral home a few blocks away. “The investigation is already done; They are proceeding to see what happened to the bodily fluids, where they were disposed. “
Gutiérrez said the two suspects attempted to bribe police when the embalming center was detected Tuesday night. Tecámac, a predominantly poor municipality of about 600,000 inhabitants, accumulates to date about 500 cases of coronavirus and 45 deaths. However, as Mexico City has many more cases, its inhabitants have begun to resort to funeral services in the suburbs.
Improper disposal of medical waste has become a growing problem in Mexico in the midst of the pandemic. And, according to a Senate study, 60% of the country’s funeral agencies lack registration or have incomplete licenses.
In May, authorities found 3.5 tons of hospital waste deposited in a forest on the outskirts of Mexico City, as well as 4,580 cubic meters (6,000 cubic yards) of medical waste crammed into an underground warehouse in the state of Puebla, where they no longer fit in cargo truck trailers or other points within the site. Likewise, piles of coffins are piling up in crematoriums due to excessive demand outside the capital.
And in the town of Nicolás Romero, in a wooded area on the outskirts of Mexico City, some people had been dumping tons of hospital waste in a ravine since mid-April. By the time inspectors arrived to clean up the area May 4-11, they found 3.5 tons of waste, including human tissue and partially incinerated tissue scattered around the site.
Incinerators specialized in these wastes are overworked due to the enormous amount of discarded protective equipment and infectious tissues generated in the midst of the pandemic.
And even outside crematoriums that have their documentation in order, discarded coffins continue to be stacked, despite a 2019 law regulating the reuse of disinfected coffins. According to the Mexican Senate, about 100,000 coffins were reused a year before the pandemic.
However, although coronavirus regulations require the bodies of COVID-19 victims to be bagged, the bodies have yet to be transported in containers – usually wooden or metal coffins – to crematoriums. Since there is no guarantee that body fluids have not leaked to the outside of the bags, people are opposed to reusing them for fear of getting the virus. These coffins are discarded and have been stacking.