In just 12 days, the number of Covid-19 deaths jumped from four to 23 in the region along the Xingu River, while the number of confirmed infections went from 92 to 486 over the same period. The Amazonian microregion of Xingu is an area of 250,000 square kilometers, larger than the combined territories of Portugal and Greece, and encompassing nine municipalities.
The city of Altamira is the only place in the region with intensive care beds. It is the largest municipality in Brazil by area, spreading over 160,000 square kilometers. It is best known for being home to the Belo Monte Dam, the massive hydroelectric complex under construction at the “big bend” of the lower Xingu River. It also has the inglorious title of being Brazil’s murder capital.
But Altamira’s health infrastructure is definitely not up to par. The city has only 14 intensive care beds — including nine pediatric units that have been adapted to accommodate adult patients. Doctors in the region published an open letter condemning Norte Energia — the company which runs the Belo Monte Dam — for promising a meager total of ten ICU beds, only to be made available in July.
Local prosecutors filed a lawsuit to force the city into lockdown in order to contain the spread.Support this coverage →