ABC Display employees show how a hospital bed they made was turned into a cardboard coffin on May 21, 2020 during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bogota, Colombia. Recorded on May 21, 2020. REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Disturbing images of corpses from dozens of coronavirus victims waiting for the streets of Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, have motivated a businessman in neighboring Colombia to design something that he hopes to find a similar scenario in other countries would prevent: hospital beds that could be converted into coffins.
The Colombian healthcare system has not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients – the country is nearing the end of two-month quarantine – but the pandemic has led to overcrowding in hospitals and funeral homes elsewhere.
Rodolfo Gomez, whose company ABC Displays typically produces marketing materials, was concerned that his country’s health care system could eventually be overridden and designed the cardboard bed coffins.
“We saw what happened in Ecuador that people took dead family members onto the streets … which also happens that funeral services collapse with the pandemic,” said Gomez, 44. “So we started developing a bed that could be turned into a coffin. ”
The beds have metal railings, wheels with brakes and can be tilted up and down. You can carry up to 150 kg. (330 lbs.). He said the biodegradable coffins cost between $ 92 and $ 132.
Gomez hopes that the local and provincial governments can provide rural or under-financed hospitals at low cost because of their low cost. Converting to coffins when a patient dies also reduces the potential contamination, he said.
“Once the corpses are prepared, they will be turned into a coffin and covered,” said Gomez at his Bogota factory, which can produce up to 3,000 beds a month. “Nearby employees are not exposed to any biological risk.”
The first coffins are donated to the hospital in Leticia, a city in the Amazon region in Colombia that has a high number of cases and limited hospital capacity.
Gomez says he has already spoken to potential buyers in Peru, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.
Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Written by Julia Symmes Cobb; Edited by Diane Craft
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