Brazilian health authorities reported on Tuesday 600 new deaths as a result of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In this way, the total figure is already close to 8,000 deaths. Specifically, they currently amount to 7,921.
The number of confirmed cases Tuesday, meanwhile, was nearly 7,000, bringing the total to 114,715. Both the death and transmission figures are by far the highest in Latin America. However, President Jair Bolsonaro insists on minimizing the impact of the pandemic and discouraging social distancing measures, which has earned him a practically global condemnation.
At a press conference, health ministry official Wanderson Oliveira said that of the 600 deaths, 25 occurred on Tuesday, 51 yesterday and 41 on Sunday. “The rest were before that period and were under investigation, they were only notified now,” he said.
The states most affected by the pandemic continue to be São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two most populous. To date, São Paulo registers 2,851 deaths and more than 34,000 positive cases, while those in Rio de Janeiro are 1,123 and 12,391, respectively.
Despite having lower figures, the state of Amazonas is one of the main sources of concern due to its smaller population and more precarious health infrastructure, which in recent days was practically collapsed due to the drastic increase in deaths.
In fact, an extreme has been reached where the coffins have had to be piled on top of each other in long ditches rushed into a city cemetery. Amid despair, some family members reluctantly choose cremation for their loved ones to prevent them from ending up in those mass graves.
The national funeral association has pleaded for an urgent shipment of caskets by air from Sao Paulo, 2,700 kilometers away, since Manaus does not have paved roads connecting it to the rest of the country.
Before the spread of the virus, the city of Manaus, the state capital, averaged 20 to 35 deaths daily, according to the mayor. Data from the state Secretary of Health show that currently there are at least 130 deaths a day. The population in the region has also greatly ignored the containment measures.
The advance of the pandemic in the country, which could make it the next global epicenter, already worries neighboring countries such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia. In Paraguay, the military forces that watch over the rules against the virus dug a shallow ditch next to the main entrance road to the city of Pedro Juan Caballero from the neighboring Brazilian city of Punta Porá, to restrict circulation.
Argentine officials say they are especially concerned about the transit of trucks from Brazil, their main trading partner. In the provinces that border the neighboring country, Argentina is working to establish safe corridors where Brazilian drivers can access bathrooms and unload their products without coming into contact with Argentines.
One of the eight infections registered in Misiones is that of a 61-year-old truck driver who apparently became ill in Sao Paulo and then returned to that province, where he died after infecting his wife.
Authorities in Colombia are also concerned, said Julián Fernández Niño, an epidemiologist at the National University in Bogotá.
“In a globalized world, the answer to the problem of the pandemic cannot be closed borders,” said Fernández Niño. The expert indicated that “Brazil is a country of great scientific development and economic capacity,” but his government maintains an “anti-scientific stance” regarding what the fight against the coronavirus should be like.
In Uruguay, President Luis Lacalle Pou noted that the spread of the virus in Brazil lit warning lights in his government.
The Bolivian government, an ally of Bolsonaro’s, declined to comment on its neighbor’s measures against the virus, but Defense Minister Fernando López promised this month to firmly implement the closure of the border.
“If we continue to be flexible at the border, the national quarantine will be useless,” he said.
The advance of the coronavirus in Brazil begins to worry its neighbors
A study conducted in Brazil found that the majority of those infected with coronaviruses are between 20 and 49 years old