Brazil has emerged as the latest global epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, with hundreds of thousands of cases affecting people from all backgrounds. But in the early weeks of the pandemic, in March, several victims of the disease shared something in common: they were domestic workers infected by their employers.
The first confirmed Covid-19 patient in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia was a woman who had recently returned from Italy. She infected her maid, who then infected her own 68-year-old mother. Then, on March 17, a 62-year-old live-in maid was the first person in Rio de Janeiro to die from the novel coronavirus, having contracted the disease from her Covid-19-positive employer.
Domestic workers are central figures in Brazil, a hidden workforce that keeps society running.