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Protecting the environment key to fighting Covid-19, say scientists

. Jun 07, 2020
atlantic forest covid Photo: Yupa Watchanakit/Shutterstock

Protecting Brazil’s green areas is critical to avoid the further spreading of Covid-19 in the country. According to scientists quoted by newspaper O Globo, two species of birds and two kinds of bats carrying the novel coronavirus have already been identified in the Atlantic Forest. If deforestation — which has grown 27.2 percent so far this year — continues to rise in the region, the chances are that these species will come in closer contact with urban centers, and risk passing the virus to humans. 

It is estimated that 90 percent of the world’s infectious diseases have spread from wild animals to humans due to the destruction of their natural habitats. With the most extensive biodiversity in the world, the risk is even more significant for Brazil. It is estimated that 15 percent of the world’s bat species are found in the country. 

“In the forest, they are kept safe,” said Edison Durigon, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of São Paulo (USP), speaking to O Globo. He added that “deforestation and hunting bring diseases.” 

Yesterday, this live blog reported that Covid-19 has impacted those living in the Amazon basin not only in Brazil but also in Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Researchers say that the region’s rich biodiversity could lead to the emergence of new diseases, but that the situation in the Atlantic Forest is worrisome due to its proximity to urban centers and the high levels of deforestation

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Augusta Saraiva

Augusta is a Brazilian journalism student at Northwestern University

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