Coronavirus

Omicron confirms businesses top threat in Brazil

Medical staffs have been handicapped by the Omicron surge. Photo: Suamy Beydoun/Agif/Folhapress
Medical staffs have been handicapped by the Omicron surge. Photo: Suamy Beydoun/Agif/Folhapress

Preliminary data from Closecare, a startup which manages bureaucracy over employee medical leave, shows that respiratory issues have accounted for 51 percent of doctor’s notes submitted by employees — up from 39 percent in December. Closecare estimates that a total of 18 million Brazilian workers will call in sick this month.

The burden on companies could reach BRL 12 billion (USD 2.1 billion).

Besides tourism-related industries, hospitals have been short-staffed due to a surge of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) — linked to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and a rare summertime flu epidemic. 

In São Paulo, unions representing medical personnel in basic care units voted to halt activities on January 19 to demand authorities hire more people to deal with a surge in demand. As of last week, almost 2 percent of doctors in municipal public hospitals were on leave after testing positive for Covid.

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