In pictures: Day of the Dead in Covid times

In pictures: Day of the Dead in Covid times

Mexico is celebrating the Day of the Dead, one of the country's most important annual festivals.

But with the number of coronavirus infections fast approaching one million and more than 91,000 people dead with Covid-19, this year's Day of the Dead has taken on a special poignancy.

Public events have been cancelled and many of the traditional altars and ceremonies which have in the past drawn large crowds were closed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Usually homemade, an altar is a space decorated with flowers, pictures of the deceased and other offerings such as the dead person's favourite food items and drinks.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador marked the occasion - when Mexicans honour deceased loved ones in the belief their souls return to Earth to be with them - by inaugurating an altar in the courtyard of the National Palace.

He has also declared three days of national mourning for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

The altar at the palace was made by 20 indigenous people from different parts of the country and is entitled A Flower for Each Soul. Marigolds are the traditional flowers used for the Day of the Dead celebrations as it is believed that their scent will attract the souls to come to the altar.

With many cemeteries closed, many Mexicans remembered their dead in more intimate ceremonies this year.

Elvira Madrid Romero is the president of an organisation which supports female sex workers.

The organisation, called Street Brigade Elisa Martínez AC, was founded 30 years ago by Jaime Alberto Montejo.

Mr Montejo contracted Covid as Mexico's health system was struggling to cope. He spent days going from hospital to hospital before he found one that had free beds, Ms Romero says. By the time he finally received medical care, it was too late and Mr Montejo died.

Ms Romero was so sick with Covid herself, she could not go to his grave until she had regained some strength two months later.

She and other members of the organisation have erected an altar to honour his legacy: "Jaime was a warrior, a social fighter, he used to say: 'f you don't know your rights and don't defend them, it's like being dead while still alive.'"

The altar for the Mexican state of Guerrero is not only adorned with the traditional marigold flowers, but also has photos of the dead.

One of them is 31-year-old Antonio Barreras, who emigrated from his home state of Guerrero, one of Mexico's poorest, to the United States. There, he contracted coronavirus and died.

His ashes were repatriated with those of 244 other migrants who died of Covid.