MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Outside a Mexico City cemetery, a family is hugging a box containing the ashes of their beloved grandmother.
The grandmother fell ill a few days after they met to celebrate New Year’s, and died shortly thereafter, family members said. He’s not even 60 years old yet.
Mexico is set to surpass 150,000 deaths from COVID-19, one of the world’s highest death tolls, a Reuters tally shows. tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi
His death toll closes the gap with India, a country several times larger. Only the United States and Brazil reported higher figures.
“You feel very helpless when you see your relatives walk away, when you have no way to do anything for them, to save them,” said Lesly Garcia. “It hurts not to see her again.”
Garcia, a student, was waiting to receive his grandmother’s ashes outside the cemetery when smoke billowed from the crematorium chimney.
Only a few people are allowed to attend each burial, an additional precaution to curb the potential spread of the highly contagious virus. Police check compliance.
Nearby, a group of men said their final goodbyes to the deceased whose ashes were kept in a small black box, decorated with a cross.
Some cried. With salsa music playing in the background, they took a sip from a small bottle of brandy one by one before pouring the liquor onto the box.
Against repeated calls by the authorities, Mexicans met to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Then, infections and deaths hit several records in January, official data show.
Mexico’s confirmed death toll had risen to 149,084 as of Saturday, and the number of infections to more than 1.75 million, authorities reported.
But health officials say the true number of cases and deaths is likely to be significantly higher.
Reporting by Josue Gonzalez and Ana Isabel Martinez in Mexico City; Edited by Matthew Lewis