The manufacture of inexpensive sealed coffins is the focus in some carpentry workshops in Managua, putting aside other projects, in preparations for the possible massive deaths that specialists are predicting.
This despite the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo making enormous efforts to minimize the impact of the pandemic in Nicaragua.
The carpenters are not elaborating luxury coffins, dedicating themselves to making coffins affordable to the population in the face of such an emergency.
La Prensa reported that Omar Polanco, who has more than 20 years of being a carpenter in a workshop located in the Distrito Cuatro of the capital, said that the orders from different funeral homes are high. They are delivering up to 60 coffins a week, triple the production than before the pandemic.
“It has been a tiring job, our day begins early and ends every day late at night, we are several workers who are looking forward to it, not that we are happy about the deaths that have occurred or will come, but rather, it is a necessary job, and we have to assume it,” says Polanco.
The carpenter added that the cheapest boxes are valued at 10,000 cordobas (about US$275 dollars) and are made of plywood, fiber and wood.
“The box that the funeral parlors are buying are sealed, which are the ones indicated for someone who dies from Covid, by this I mean that they have no window to see the deceased, they also have no decorations, and inside they have no lining,” Polanco explained.
He explained that a new manufacturing modality that they will implement will be to line the box on the outside and inside with black plastic.
“This will be as part of a security protocol because the ideal is to just put the person in and bury them,” he says.
Other workshops in Managua use cheaper materials, such as compressed cardboard to make their caskets, with prices ranging from 3,000 and 6,000 cordobas.
“We are producing enough so that there is no shortage, and some materials that are needed are hard to find, larger workshops have grabbed them, so we are doing what we can, sales have been good, funeral homes in the departments (provinces) are also coming to Managua to stock up, it is incredible,” Otoniel Gaitán told La Prensa.
The development of sealed boxes for overweight people is also increasing. Its price ranges between 25 and 30 thousand cordobas, the cheapest. The most luxurious coffins are being offered between 15,000 and 50,000 cordobas.
The Daniel Ortega regime estimates that if the virus were to occur in Nicaragua, at least 32,500 people would be affected, of which 75 percent would be mild or moderate cases and that 25 percent, that is, about 8,125 would be serious patients.
Taking into account the worldwide lethality of the virus, whose rate is 2.5 percent, the Government estimates that at least 813 people will die from coronavirus. However, specialists have pointed out that the number of deaths can exceed more than 2,000 people.
The Managua City Council has already planned the purchase of 46 coffins and funeral services in a first acquisition lot, but it is pending to spend an additional 10 million cordobas to buy this type of casket.
The impact in Managua
In Nicaragua, the Ministry of Health, which secretly handles the figures, last week had reported 25 positive cases, of which at least eight people have died from the virus.
However, the figure may be higher because the Observatorio Ciudadano reported up to May 13 1,270 people affected in all departments and autonomous regions (in 74 municipalities). Coronavirus in Nicaragua: Doctors warn of possible chaos due to the rapid spread of covid-19
The main departments where, according to this independent monitoring group, the virus is affecting are Managua (with 628 cases), Chinandega (106), Masaya (102), Matagalpa (81), Granada (54), Estelí (39) León ( 34), Chontales (27), Rivas and Atlántico Sur (25 each), includes the official data of the Minsa and the suspected cases reported to this organization.
According to the organization as of May 13, it had received and verified 266 deaths, of which 33 (12 percent) are categorized as deaths from pneumonia and 233 (88 percent) as suspicious deaths from Covid-19.
Managua and Chinandega report the highest number of deaths.