High rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in funeral home workers in Ecuador: Is it an occupational risk for COVID-19?

UDLA COVID-19 team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIM: The COVID-19 outbreak has already caused more than 6.5 million deaths, overwhelming health systems worldwide. The unusual demand for funeral home services could make these workers a potential risk group for occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 associated with corpses management for COVID-19 patients.

METHODOLOGY: This is a cross-sectional study aimed to describe the infection rate of SARS-CoV-2 in funeral home staff by testing them with RT-qPCR in Quito, Ecuador. A total of 232 funeral home workers, representing more than 40% of funeral home personnel in Quito, were included in the study, in June 2020, immediately after the population lockdown was lifted in Ecuador.

RESULTS: A total of 48 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, yielding an infection rate of 20.7%. The SARS-CoV-2 infection rate was 18.1 and 20.0% among personnel managing corpses or not managing corpses, respectively. Among the SARS-CoV-2 positive patients, 81.3% reported no symptoms related to COVID-19, and 3 individuals had high viral loads over 10 8 copies/ml.

CONCLUSION: The high SARS-CoV-2 infection rate in funeral home staff suggested a potential occupational risk for COVID-19 but not related to corpses management. Public health guidelines for safe corpses management for COVID-19 victims and safe funeral services should be reinforced.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Pages (from-to)1012434
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Humans
  • Funeral Homes
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ecuador/epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Cadaver


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