Manaus Mayor: Lockdown may end in “shooting and deaths”

Manaus Mayor: Lockdown may end in “shooting and deaths”
Workers in Manaus. No lockdown in sight. Photo: AGAM

Manaus, capital of Amazonas, is facing a total collapse of its public healthcare and funeral systems as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fifty-eight percent of the 10,000 cases in the state are concentrated in the city and its outskirts, where cemeteries register an average of 140 burials per day. Mayor Arthur Virgilio Neto, of the Social Democratic Party, told BBC Brasil that “every day [he sees] more deaths than people [he knows].” The city previously saw an average of 20 to 30 burials a day before the crisis. Despite the severity of the crisis, the mayor is resisting advice from the Health Ministry to implement a full lockdown, arguing that it would risk social chaos and rebellion.

“[All it would take is] someone to throw a rock, someone to begin shooting with rubber bullets that can blind someone, and the reaction of people who live in despair. For it to end up in killing.” The Health Ministry has launched a civil case to force the state of Amazonas — and the municipality of Manaus — to go into lockdown. 

In neighboring state Pará, the Greater Belém region was placed on lockdown yesterday.Mr. Virgílio Neto also made a public appeal for international solidarity to French President Emmanuel Macron and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. He told BBC Brasil that the appeal was needed because “at first no help arrived, and when it did — from the Health Ministry — it was far too little.” The mayor has publicly clashed with Mr. Bolsonaro over the last month.