In the dry, dusty backlands of Brazil’s northeastern Sertão, precious little grows on the arid soil. One exception is the mandacaru cactus, which is endemic to the region and flourishes during the cool evenings. Now, it’s not just the mandacarus that are popping up all over the Sertão, the coronavirus is spreading all over this notoriously infertile land.
The disease first arrived in Brazil’s Northeast on the coast of Bahia state, far away from the semi-arid Sertão. One of the earliest known cases in the region was Cláudio Henrique do Vale Vieira, a businessman who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 in São Paulo,