Some of the bodies of Spanish and Peruvian sailors who drowned in a shipwreck off Newfoundland’s coast last week are reportedly not being returned to their families right away because their corpses tested positive for COVID-19.

The Spanish fishing vessel Villa de Pitanxo sank 460 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland on Feb 15. Three fishermen were rescued and nine bodies were recovered, with 12 still missing. Four of the bodies – including two Spaniards and two Peruvians – reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 after being recovered.

According to reports, Canada has refused to release the bodies to their families for at least another week due to the positive tests.

The families of the dead Spanish fishermen were reportedly under the impression that all the bodies of the victims would be repatriated after a Spanish military plane picked up the bodies and survivors on Feb. 22. However, only three of the five recovered bodies arrived in Spain. 

Meanwhile, Canadian officials reportedly reached out to the families of the deceased to let them know that the delivery of the bodies – two Spanish, two Peruvian – would be delayed between seven and 10 days because they tested positive for COVID-19. 

The family of deceased fisherman Cambadés Miguel Lumbres told the Spanish outlet la Voz de Galicia that they “are waiting in Peru for their arrival, but for now it will not be possible.” 

The family of Rogelio Franco Dalmazo claimed that the “body had to have left yesterday for Peru, but now they tell us that it will take a week.”

One of the families of the Peruvian victims spoke about how waiting for the body is becoming difficult for the family. 

“His wife is with the little children, who are very small and it is the rest of the family that is taking care of the paperwork. We are a little desperate because they tell us that he will be between seven and ten days in Canada, we imagine in the morgue,” said Carlos Ordóñez, uncle of William Arévalo Pérez who died in the tragedy.

Some of the families had reported that a COVID outbreak had recently occurred on the vessel, according to la Voz de Galicia