Coronavirus

Brazil faces widespread oxygen shortage amid coronavirus peak

Increased demand and consumption around the country could lead to oxygen shortages, similar to those seen in Manaus two months ago

Air Force official transporting medical oxygen tanks to Manaus, in the Amazon
Air Force official transporting medical oxygen tanks to Manaus, in the Amazon. Photo: FAB

In mid-January, oxygen shortages in the hospital network of Manaus — the largest city in Brazil’s Amazon region — resulted in horrific scenes of desperation, as health units became “suffocation chambers.” At least 31 patients died of asphyxiation due to the lack of hospital supplies.

Two months on, the scenario may be about to repeat itself in several cities around the country. New coronavirus variants and all-time records of new cases and deaths have taken oxygen demands to their absolute peak — and suppliers cannot keep up. 

There are five producers of medical oxygen in Brazil....

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