Ecuador: Covid-19 victim found alive after hospital mix-up

A 74-year-old woman in Ecuador, who had been declared dead from the coronavirus, has been found alive. Relatives of Alba Maruri were notified of her death last month, and later received at their home what they were told were her ashes.

On Thursday, however, Mrs Maruri woke up after three weeks in a coma in hospital and asked doctors to contact her sister. The family were overjoyed at the news but remain confused about the ashes forwarded to their home.

The hospital has apologised for the mix-up.

Mrs Maruri lives in Guayaquil city, the epicentre of the pandemic in Ecuador. Covid-19 left a major impact in Ecuador, with over 22,000 infected cases and some 600 reported dead.

According to the newspaper El Comercio, Mrs Maruri was admitted to hospital last month with high fever and breathing problems. On 27 March the hospital notified relatives that Mrs Maruri had passed away. They were shown a body in the hospital mortuary, but the viewing was from a safe distance in order to avoid further spreading of the coronavirus.

Mrs Maruri’s nephew Jaime Morla told hospital staff he thought the body was that of his aunt, as it had the same hair and same skin colour. The body was then taken for cremation, and the ashes were forwarded to the family.

When Mrs Maruri surfaced from her coma on Thursday, she gave doctors her name. She also gave her home telephone number and asked the doctors to contact her sister Aura to arrange to come for her.

A hospital team visited the family and apologised. El Comercio reported that there had been much confusion at the hospital because of the large number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.

Her sister Aura described the case as a miracle, as they had thought her dead for over a month, and they now have someone else’s ashes.