In Greek city, segregated graves extend COVID-19 isolation

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Even after death, COVID-19 victims endure harrowing isolation in Thessaloniki, the city in Greece most acutely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Efcharis Gunseer, 84, couldn’t see her daughter during any part of a losing battle with the virus, not at the nursing home where she first became ill or at the hospital where she spent several weeks. The staff of the overwhelmed intensive care ward also was too busy to set up phone calls, the daughter said..

When Gunseer died in late August, her body was wrapped in two plastic bags and placed in a shrink-wrapped casket. Under rules set by city authorities, she wasn’t buried next to her late husband but in a section of a cemetery reserved for people infected with the virus. Her grave remains off-limits to visitors.

“I think to die alone that way is the worst thing that can happen,” daughter Mikaela Triandafyllidou, 45, told The Associated Press. “I only saw my mother for a moment, from a distance at the morgue for identification….People are dying with no one there for them, like dogs.”

More than 300 people have been buried so far in the segregated plots, according to Thessaloniki officials.

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