Omicron cases continue to rise in Brazil. As do deaths

Omicron cases continue to rise in Brazil. As do deaths
Pediatric ICUs are getting overwhelmed across the country. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

The new Omicron-fueled wave of coronavirus infections continues to obliterate past records of daily cases, with almost a quarter-million people testing positive for Covid on Wednesday. Since the turn of the year, ICU occupancy rates have gone up and are putting pressure on understaffed health networks across the country.

Deaths, too, are on the rise. The seven-day average of new daily casualties caused by the coronavirus has jumped from fewer than 100 on Christmas Day to 368 now. While the numbers remain far below the levels registered in April 2021 — when over 3,000 people were dying every day — it is a trend that worries experts.

According to authorities, hospitalizations and deaths are overwhelmingly recorded among unvaccinated patients. But epidemiologists also believe that low rates of Brazilians with booster shots (almost 21 percent so far) is adding to the pressure. Authorities are already considering the possibility of offering a fourth dose to senior citizens and health professionals, but the rollout has slowed down after most adults received their initial two shots.

At least three states — Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhão, and Rio Grande do Norte — are dealing with pediatric ICUs at full capacity. In four other states, occupancy is at critical levels. Vaccination among children started in Brazil less than two weeks ago, making this demographic the least protected against the coronavirus.