Brazil is emerging as next COVID-19 hotspot

From the Amazon city of Manaus to the seemingly endless urban sprawl of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, freshly dug graves have been filling up quickly for weeks

Brazil is emerging as next COVID-19 hotspot
View of graves at the Caju Cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Photo: Mauro Pimentel/AFP
English 07/05/2020 14:17 AP Río de Janeiro Alan Clendenning & Diarlei Rodrigues Actualizada 15:10

From the Amazon city of Manaus to the seemingly endless urban sprawl of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, freshly dug graves have been filling up quickly for weeks with the bodies of Brazilians killed by COVID-19.

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Deaths from the coronavirus hit some cities so hard starting last month that officials were unprepared for the crush of bodies even though regional governments imposed measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro railed against business shutdowns as more harmful than the virus itself—and the country’s first lockdown was not ordered until this week, when there were already more than 7,000 deaths.

The city’s hospitals are close to capacity and health workers complain that they don’t have enough essential drugs to treat patients. 

Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly called COVID-19a little flu” and refuses to wear a mask at his public events, has been criticized by protesters who lean from their apartment windows to bang pots and pans. 

In Manaus, a city of 2.2 million in the vast Amazon region, the death surge was so extreme that trenches for common graves were dug in one cemetery and caskets were piled atop each other. 

Some scientists said over 1 million in Brazil are probably infected. The country is heading into winter, which can worsen respiratory illnesses.

sg