Coronavirus crisis devastates the Amazon region

Coronavirus crisis devastates the Amazon region
Photo: Nathalie Brasil/Secom

The situation in Manaus, capital city of the state of Amazonas, is nothing short of desperate. Mayor Arthur Virgílio Neto is only now contemplating a full lockdown — after the city experienced a full-scale collapse of its public health system and became a symbol of the human toll the coronavirus can inflict. Despite the gravity of the situation, there remains a significant amount of local resistance in the Amazon region — strengthened by President Jair Bolsonaro’s continuing calls for insurrection against social isolation measures.

We have prepared a chart with the evolution of Covid-19 in the state of Amazonas highlighting three milestones: when the president promoted anti-quarantine motorcades, the moment when Manaus declared its public health system had collapsed, and when Mr. Bolsonaro refused to help transport coffins to the region despite the shortage of coffins — forcing authorities to store the dead in refrigerated containers.

Eighty percent of Amazonas municipalities have at least one confirmed infection — and these numbers are growing quickly. While the state has one of the highest rates of infections and cases per 1 million, Manaus is the only city with intensive care units, making it the focal point of statewide migration — further overburdening the municipal healthcare system. 

And let’s not forget about the massive underreporting and lack of testing.  Manaus recorded only 174 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) deaths in for the whole of 2019. In April 2020 alone, there were 1,181 — while the official Covid-19 death count is only 312. “Three in four deaths have generic causes of death (ARDS, pneumonia, respiratory insufficiency),” tweeted UOL reporter Carlos Madeiro.