Just a couple of hours after Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel announced he had contracted the coronavirus, his counterpart in the state of Pará, Helder Barbalho, did the same. “As you know, part of my team had tested positive for Covid-19. I was tested twice — the first result was inconclusive, and the second was negative. But doctors recommended a third test, which came back positive,” said Mr. Barbalho. The governor added that he has not shown any symptoms — and used the opportunity to ask his constituents to stay home and avoid becoming carriers of the virus.
Every state for itself
On Monday, Mr. Barbalho made a controversial statement, saying his state’s healthcare system would not accept citizens from the neighboring state of Amazonas — which has become the first Brazilian state to experience a collapse in its health network. Amazonas has recorded 1,275 coronavirus infections and 71 deaths, boasting the highest infection rate per 1 million residents (303) and death rate (17 per 1 million people).
“At this moment, our structure is set to host citizens of Pará. We won’t omit ourselves from helping other states, but my responsibility and priority relies with the people of Pará,” said the governor.