Human cost of Covid-19 not being counted in Rio’s favelas

favelas rio de janeiro

The state of Rio de Janeiro has officially recorded 135,000 Covid-19 infections and 11,989 deaths, but the real human cost of the pandemic may be significantly higher due to low testing and underreporting in favelas. The city of Rio de Janeiro has over 1,000 favelas in its metropolitan area of 12 million people. 

Well over 1.5 million people live in Rio’s favelas, though official records indicate that there have only been 5,410 recorded cases and 751 deaths among Rio’s dwellers. Indeed, one of the problems is that there remains a lack of accurate census data on these communities.

Given their cramped conditions and lack of infrastructure that make social distancing measures all-but-impossible, favelas are a natural breeding ground for the coronavirus. However, in another example of the state’s absence in these low-income communities, residents are being betrayed by official Covid-19 record keeping. 

Famous areas such as Rocinha — with a population of over 100,000 — and Cidade de Deus (50,000), have recorded only 308 and 244 infections respectively.

The logistical challenges to gathering data in these favelas are significant, but this hasn’t stopped the state from increasing the number of police operations and killings in these communities, as The Brazilian Report has shown.

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