Heartbreaking images show a Spanish priest forced to conduct “drive through” funerals as the coronavirus death toll continues to rise.
There is just time for a brief blessing as hearses come and go throughout the day while the killer bug takes its toll.
Each ceremony at Madrid’s La Almudena cemetery lasts just five minutes, and no more than five mourners are permitted to attend.
Father Edduar, whose job it is to conduct the sorrowful proceedings, told CNN it is one of the few opportunities he now has to meet worshippers, with churches closed across the country.
He said: “I try to be close to them. I tell them I’m with them and that they’re not alone. Sometimes it upsets me, I cry.”
Each closed casket of a Covid-19 victim is doused with holy water before workers in masks and gloves load it onto a gurney.
Spaniards have been told to remain at home for the past three weeks as the crisis grows.
Elsewhere, in Barcelona, people who died from the virus have had to be temporarily buried – and it could take two years before they are finally laid to rest for good.
In spite of the risks he faces, Father Edduar told CNN it is a “privilege” to carry out the morbid duty.
Fresh hopes have been voiced that the country’s death rate could be slowing.
Today Spain reported 637 fatalities in the previous 24 hours – a 5% increase in total and less than half the pace recorded a week earlier.
“The pandemic’s growth rate is slowing down in almost every region,” Maria Jose Sierra, deputy head of Spain’s health emergency committee, told a virtual news conference.
Exhausted but less overwhelmed than a few days ago, some doctors echoed that relief.
“We have noticed a decline in the number of people coming to the hospital emergency ward,” Christian Vigil, a doctor at Madrid’s October 12 Hospital, told Reuters.
Monday’s data showed Spain’s total cases up to 135,032, the highest in Europe and second in the world after the United States.
The number of confirmed deaths stands at 13,169.