How COVID-19 is hitting the Amazon

Our Ambassador Victor Souza tells us how the region is being affected

With more than 25,000 coronavirus deaths so far, Brazil is the second hardest-hit country in the world. Our Ambassador Victor Souza told us how the Amazon region is being affected. By Marta Portocarrero.

The states of Amazonas and Pará, in the northern Amazon rainforest region of Brazil, are being particularly affected by coronavirus.

In Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, hundreds of people are dying each day.

Despite official numbers saying that only 1,891 have died in the entire state, people in the city are having to bury their family members in group caves due to the lack of space in the cemeteries.

Cases are underreported

There is a high number of cases that are not reported in Brazil and low testing means that many COVID-19 deaths are registered under other health issues.

The city’s biggest cemetery predicts they will bury 4,500 bodies this month alone. Usually they do about 30 burials each day, but these are not normal times.

The media also reports that some people have had to bury their own family members, fearing bodies would be left to rot on the streets, as happened in the coastal city of Guayaquil, in Ecuador.

From its epicentre in São Paulo, it is surprising how the virus got to such a remote metropolis of only 2 million people and is now spreading to smaller cities.

In the neighbouring state of Pará, there are 31,033 confirmed cases and 2,545 deaths, official data.

Victor lives in a smaller city, Santarém, where 1,130 cases and 68 deaths have been confirmed. He told us about how the number of cases have been rising.

The health system is collapsing

Another problem he pointed out was the collapse of the health system in this part of Brazil, which has just been accelerated by COVID-19. In the state of Amazonas, the number of ICU beds is no longer enough for all the patients infected by coronavirus.

In April, doctors reported lack of water and PPE in hospitals too.

Bolsonaro’s ideology

Despite the high death toll hitting Brazil, President Bolsonaro has been downplaying the effects of the virus, speaking publicly against the need for social distancing and quarantine and encouraging the economy to reopen as soon as possible.

But while many disagree, many of his supporters are following his instructions and refusing to stay home, making it harder for local governors to keep the population safe.

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