An Ecuadorian woman declared dead by COVID-19 suddenly woke up in the hospital, to the delight and relief of relatives who had identified and cremated someone else's body.
74-year-old Alba Maruri was hospitalized in Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian city most affected by the pandemic, in March with a fever and breathing difficulties.
She passed out for three weeks and was pronounced dead on March 27, relatives said.
A week later, her family was shown a body in the hospital morgue, but for fear of being infected with coronavirus, she did not get close to it. The body was on its side, the back showed, not the face.
Maruri's nephew Jaime Morla said he thought it was his aunt and told the hospital officials it was.
"I was afraid to see her face," he said to AFP.
"I was a meter and a half away. She had the same hair, the same skin tone. She even had a wound like one that my aunt had recently," said Morla.
This body was taken to a funeral home and cremated.
Maruri regained consciousness on Thursday and told the doctors who she was and had her call her sister Aura.
"The doctors went to my aunt's house to confirm and report the mistake," said another nephew, Juan Carlos Ramirez.
"You still don't know whose ashes you have in your house," he added.
The family plans to sue the hospital to get back the cremation fee they paid and the misery caused by the confusion.
The sister told the Ecuadorian news agencies that hospital officials visited her on Friday and told her that her sister was fine and that she was about to be released.
"It's a miracle. For almost a month we thought she was dead. Imagine.
"And I have someone else's ashes," said Aura.
Authorities in the port city of Guayaquil have registered more than 22,000 cases of coronavirus, including 576 deaths.
The government says there are an additional 1,060 likely COVID-19 deaths.
After Brazil, Ecuador is the most affected country in Latin America.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)