After indicating earlier in the month that his city’s health care system was on the verge of collapse, this week Manaus Mayor Arthur Virgílio Neto burst into tears when criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I am not a gravedigger,” Mr. Neto said, adding that he did not know whether the president “could be one. Maybe he would not. But I do hope he assumes his presidential role.”
On the same occasion, the mayor also said the city has passed the state of emergency and currently faces a state of calamity. With 193 deaths as of Thursday, Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas, accounts for 82.5 percent of the state’s casualties. Over 90 percent of the intensive care units are occupied, and in order to deal with the increased number of deaths, Manaus has been forced to store dead bodies in refrigerated containers.
Last Monday, Mr. Neto met with Vice President Hamilton Mourão and begged for hospital equipment and drugs to treat Covid-19. According to the mayor, he also complained about Mr. Bolsonaro to the vice president, who allegedly listened quietly to the criticism. Later that day, Mr. Neto said on Twitter that “some things need to be said during the meeting to make it clear the serious situation that Manaus currently endures.”
“At this time, my attention is directed to freeing my people from Covid-19,” wrote the mayor.
Mais uma vez venho fazer meu apelo à população sobre a necessidade do isolamento social, neste período que o cenário não está favorável para sair de casa. Estamos vivendo uma situação jamais esperada para a nossa cidade. pic.twitter.com/kyMIuseduI— Arthur Virgílio Neto (@Arthurvneto) April 23, 2020