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Manaus Mayor hospitalized with Covid-19

. Jun 30, 2020
Manaus Mayor Arthur Virgilio hospitalized with Covid-19 Manaus Mayor Arthur Virgilio. Photo: SECOM/

Manaus Mayor Arthur Virgílio Neto, 74, was taken into intensive care this morning after testing positive for Covid-19. The mayor was originally admitted to a private hospital in Manaus on Monday night with symptoms of respiratory distress and was later transferred to an intensive care unit. Mr. Neto is considered an at-risk patient due to his advanced age.

In early May, Mr. Neto was one of the harshest critics of President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, calling the president an “indirect murderer” for his lack of assistance to states and municipalities. The Mayor of Manaus had previously pleaded numerous times for help from the federal government to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the city, to the point of bursting into tears when addressing Vice President Hamilton Mourão.

Manaus — the largest city in the Amazon, with nearly 2.2 million people — has been one of the hardest-hit cities by the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, it has confirmed 27,122 cases and 1,770 deaths. In April, The Brazilian Report covered the collapse of the city’s public health system, with hospital workers scrambling to find room for patients left adrift in hospital corridors, waiting for unavailable hospital beds.

Making matters worse

Amid delayed and unreliable help from the federal government and the Health Ministry, Manaus and the state of Amazonas have been left largely to fend for themselves in finding resources to combat the rising Covid-19 spread in the state. To make matters worse, the Federal Police is investigating Amazonas Governor Wilson Lima for his alleged involvement in a kickback scheme involving the purchase of ventilators for the state’s public hospitals.

The investigation points out that Mr. Lima spent BRL 2.97 million (USD 549,664) on the purchase of 28 ventilators from a wine import company, at a value 133 percent higher than the top-end market price for ventilators in Brazil, suggesting foul play.

Amazonas currently has the third-highest rate of Covid-19 cases among Brazilian states with 1,686.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to Health Ministry data.

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Rafael Lima

Rafael is a Communication student at Wake Forest University, and a student fellow of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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