Viruses in Brazil: health chaos in the Amazon sparks outrage

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Manaus | The lack of oxygen in hospitals in Manaus, in the Amazon, facing a strong epidemic, prompted pan concerts in major cities of Brazil on Friday in protest against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

“Bolsonaro, get out!”, Many Brazilians shouted angrily from their windows in different districts of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo or Brasilia, who have not demonstrated in this way since the middle of last year, when the country was going through the worst of the first wave.

The state of Amazonas (north), which in April and May experienced mass burials and the collapse of its health system, has been experiencing a new epidemic resumption for several weeks, which has saturated hospitals and exhausted the reserves of ‘oxygen.

Brazil has been deeply shocked by images circulating on social media showing families of patients bringing oxygen tanks to the hospital, reports of doctors having to manually ventilate the sick and of patients dying of suffocation, while the government local instituted a ten-day curfew in an attempt to contain the epidemic.

This Friday, dozens of people lined up in front of a distribution station, with the hope of being able to fill oxygen bottles for their hospitalized relatives.

“This is for my grandmother, the last cylinder is running out and this one is a refill, I don’t know what time I’ll be there, but I think I’ll get there,” he told the AFP David Mafra, turning to move the heavy canister, almost as high as him.

Fears have intensified since the region was identified as the origin of a variant of the virus that scientists say may be more contagious.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director of Health Emergencies Michael Ryan warned on Friday that “if it continues like this, we’re going to see a wave even stronger than the catastrophic April wave.” -mai ”in the Amazonas and in particular in Manaus, its capital.

Viruses in Brazil: health chaos in the Amazon sparks outrage

Oyxgene shortage for premature babies

The federal government has indicated that it is sending oxygen cylinders and has started to evacuate patients by plane to other states in an attempt to relieve the health system in Manaus, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

The lack of oxygen affects all patients who depend on it, and not just those who are hospitalized due to Covid-19.

This is the case of 61 babies born prematurely who, on the brink of exhaustion of reserves, had to be evacuated to other states, although the Ministry of Health announced on Friday that it had succeeded in replenishing its reserves of oxygen to keep newborns in Manaus for another 48 hours.

The chaos in the Amazon has rekindled criticism of Mr. Bolsonaro and his handling of the epidemic, which has already claimed more than 208,000 lives in Brazil, a figure that only the United States has exceeded.

The president – a skeptic of the virus who opposed the containment measures and defends, on the contrary, the use of drugs without proven effectiveness against the Covid-19 – denied any responsibility on Friday.

“The problem is terrible over there [en Amazonie], but we have done our part, with resources, with means, ”he said.

Since November, Brazil has experienced an upsurge in contaminations and deaths, made worse by the holiday season.

The South American giant is preparing to launch its vaccination campaign this month, but the government has not yet set a specific date as it awaits the authorizations of the vaccines by the health authorities.

In addition, the plane which was to take off for India on Friday in order to deliver two million doses of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, was postponed “for two or three days”, according to Mr. Bolsonaro, due to “political pressure For the Asian country to prioritize the launch of its own vaccination campaign.

The Chinese CoronaVac vaccine is also awaiting its emergency authorization, of which six million doses have been imported and are kept in Sao Paulo.

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