" Brazil is experiencing the greatest health and hospital collapse in its history ." Those were the words used by the largest scientific research center in Latin America - the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), based in Rio de Janeiro - to refer to the devastating situation that the Latin American giant is experiencing today due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is estimated that in 25 of the 27 states of the country, of about 210 million inhabitants, the occupancy rates of intensive care units (ICU) are equal to or greater than 80 percent, according to data from the Covid-19 Observatory. In fact, in 19 capitals (those with the highest concentration of citizens) ICUs are at 90 percent of their capacity.
The situation is critical. Brazil, current global epicenter of the pandemic, has been chaining a record average of 2,087 deaths during the last week. In addition, the number of daily infections is also soaring: only on Friday 90,500 infections were registered, the highest figure since the pandemic began in the country. The South American giant even surpassed India in the number of infections last weekend, making it the second most affected country by the virus with more than 11.7 million infections and some 287,000 deaths, according to the University. Johns Hopkins.
In this regard, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the current covid situation puts Brazil under " an extreme threat” Which, in addition, represents a danger for Latin America and the world.
What worries the authorities is that there is a higher transmission rate of the P.1 variant, which originated in the state of Amazonas. “All variants of interest are important nationally and globally. They all have potential implications beyond national borders, ”Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, told a press conference.
Faced with this X-ray, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) - WHO regional office - issued a warning to the Brazilian government to apply measures to keep the virus under control.
“As of today, we can say that the transmission of SARS-Cov-2 is 'high' or 'very high' in all regions of Brazil and is increasing at the same time in all regions of Brazil. I would say that this is the difference compared to the pandemic wave of 2020; what we now have is a simultaneous increase in all regions of Brazil, ” Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, PAHO Incident Commander and Deputy Director of the Health Emergencies Department, explained to EL TIEMPO in an email.
This whole panorama occurs despite the fact that this country has a praised health system and recognized vaccination campaigns worldwide, but that for this pandemic it is still at very low levels.
Despite this, experts consulted by this newspaper agree that this devastating situation in Brazil is the result of increased transmission of the virus during the holidays and carnivals.
Facts that, in addition, add to a lack of clear coordination on the part of the federal government, whose policies have been confusing and have sometimes underestimated the true severity of covid-19. In addition, the Executive has not had a clear policy from the Ministry of Health.
In fact, this week the fourth person to hold that portfolio in a pandemic year was named.
The administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, on the other hand, has resisted imposing restrictive measures, despite insistent requests from regional governments. Rio de Janeiro, for example, announced the closure of its beaches this weekend. Bolsonaro responded by demanding before the country's justice the decrees of the local authorities that suspend economic activities to contain the contagion.
This demand seeks to limit the power of governors and mayors to impose restrictive measures, which takes away the maneuverability of regional leaders who know the figures and experience the threat of sanitary collapse day after day.
The situation in the cities
“The situation is really chaotic at the hospital level. Health professionals are fed up, tired and can't take it anymore. They see people dying all the time, and all states are collapsing at the same time, "Vitoria Ramos, head of humanitarian affairs at Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Brazil, told this newspaper.
At the beginning of the pandemic, some states were more affected than others . Back then, when medical centers in different regions were about to collapse, patients were sent to other areas to be treated. However, what the country is experiencing is a simultaneous collapse, which makes it impossible to distribute the loads among the different ICUs in the country.
Ramos also explained that the situation in Manaus (in the state of Amazonas) at the beginning of the year, where many people drowned due to lack of oxygen, is being replicated today in the state of Rondonia. “We are concerned about the situation in Rondonia (…). This is the most dramatic thing that can happen, that people die without air and without oxygen, ”said Ramos.
The consequences of the health chaos are already being seen in some parts of the country. According to the Efe agency, the Vitória de Santo Antao cemetery, a town located in the state of Pernambuco, is going through a serious situation.
" The dozens of corpses are piling up inside sacks at the bottom of the cemetery, in the open air, covered with plastic tarps in precarious conditions and with some exposed parts that come out of their wrapping, such as jaws and hands (...) ”, described that agency, which stressed that this is a problem that has been presented for a long time. decade in this city, but which has gained greater proportions in recent months with the increase in deaths from covid.