How the coronavirus outbreak spiraled out of control in Paraná

Workers sanitizing a bus terminal in Curitiba, Paraná

The coronavirus situation in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná is becoming increasingly chaotic by the day, with the local contagion rate peaking at 1.36 and hospitals running out of beds to treat patients.

The rolling average of daily new cases tripled in mid-November and hit 3,612 by the end of the month — an all-time high for the state, exceeding infection totals recorded at the peak of Brazil’s epidemic.

In the state capital Curitiba, public hospitals are already running out of available beds in infirmaries and intensive care units, with some facilities forced to turn patients away due to the rapid increase in cases. State-wide, the occupancy rate of ICU beds sat at 89 percent as of Friday — the rate hit 96 percent in Greater Curitiba.

BBC News Brasil consulted a number of experts and local authorities to work out why Paraná’s coronavirus infections have suffered such a pronounced spike. While acknowledging the positive impact of isolation measures in the state, infectious diseases expert Nelson Arns suggested that Paraná “closed too early.”

The state closed schools and imposed strict guidelines on non-essential businesses in mid-March when cases in Paraná were still low and the virus was not believed to be spreading actively around the local population.

“The impact of [isolation] became too heavy and unbearable, especially for young people,” he told BBC Brasil. Now, in Mr. Arns view, a pushback is in effect, with the population now less likely to adhere to social distancing measures.

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