Brazil hospitals buckle under coronavirus

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 19, 2020 - Duration: 02:19s

Brazil hospitals buckle under coronavirus

Brazil has announced a total of 254,220 confirmed cases, overtaking Britain to become the country with the third-highest number of coronavirus infections and doctors are now airlifting patients out of the furthest reaches of the Amazon.

Libby Hogan reports.


Brazil hospitals buckle under coronavirus

Brazil's hospitals are at breaking point, as the number of new coronavirus cases hit nearly 15,000 in just one day (Saturday May 16).

It's now got the world's third-highest number of infections.

That distinction may pile pressure on leader Jair Bolsonaro.

He's continued to call for a rollback of quarantines arguing that business must stay open, fearing the toll on the economy, and defied advice from health officials.

He's fired one Health Minister, and the second one quit, after just weeks in the job.

Sao Paulo's Governor Joao Doria has again raised his voice, calling for urgent action: "We have to beat this (economic) crisis but to beat this crisis we have to beat coronavirus.

I repeat, the enemy of the economy is not quarantine, it is the pandemic." Meanwhile on the streets, some people are out as normal, exercising right outside makeshift hospitals including one outside Rio de Janiero's iconic Maracana stadium.

Rio doesn't have a mandatory stay-at-home order, only quarantine recommendations and some restrictions on businesses.

But some like local Margarida Serqueira worry over the lack of measures.

"Brazil is in a bad state and is behind (in coronavirus response).

Lockdown should have been done a long time back." The health crisis is being felt not just in capital cities, but is also spreading fast among indigenous people in the furthest reaches of the Amazon.

Critical patients are now being airlifted out of remote areas to the only intensive care units in the vast state of Amazonas.

Doctor Edson Santos Rodrigues explains: "Cases are going up inside the Amazon, We have brought in up to four, six, up to eight (coronavirus) patients per day." While Bolsonaro's supporters have showed their loud support in biweekly demonstrations, one recent survey pointed to a fall in President Bolsonaro's popularity with 43 percent of participants saying they thought he was doing a 'bad or terrible job' a tumble from 31 percent in January.

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