Pandemic in Brazil Turns Dramatic, Health Emergency Escalates

I do not know any doctors personally, but from the information from my friends, I can conclude that the health service is accompanied by emotional fatigue and long-term stress related to working in difficult conditions. After all, it has been over a year of difficult and pressurized work with the risk of health and often their lives as well – says Alicia who lives and studies in Brazil.

In an interview with Chlorine news, the Polish woman reports on the worsening epidemic situation in South American country.

  • In March alone, more than 66,000 died in Brazil. people. How are the residents doing it? – The atmosphere is quite tense – says Alicia.
  • A Polish PhD student at a Brazilian university talks about overcrowded hospitals leading to social unrest. A certain distance is created between people, it is noticeable
  • Although a significant part of the inhabitants of Brazil observe the restrictions, “for a long time in the outskirts of the city and in the favelas of Campinas, the adherence to the recommendations was very superficial.
  • The mutation P.1, spreading in Brazil, turns out to be twice as contagious as the previous variants of the virus- the interviewee points out
  • According to Alicia, a few days ago President Bolsonaro made an official speech in which he defined 2021 as the year of vaccination, the residents do not seem to believe him anymore.

From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the country has been among the most affected in the world. The last few months have been even more difficult. In March alone, more than 66,000 people died.

So, how are the people cope with the emergency situation? What is the overall atmosphere in the country? Alicia directly reports from Brazil.

I live very far from the Amazon, so I observe their difficult situation only from the media. However, in the area where I live (the city of Campinas in the state of São Paulo) the situation is also difficult. Hospitals are overcrowded, leading to social unrest, says Alicia.

A certain distance is created between people, it is noticeable. Everyone here conscientiously wears a mask and follows the rules. From the very beginning of the pandemic, most people took the recommendations seriously. However, not in the poorer parts of the city.

For a long time on the outskirts of the city and in the favelas of Campinas, adherence to the recommendations was superficial. Services such as hairdresser and beautician did not close there when there was the first lockdown in Brazil.

There are many concerns about the current COVID-19 situation in Campinas, as it has already exceeded 1,000 deaths this year so far. What is worrying is that this number was crossed in just 95 days.

Director of the Department of Health (Devisa) Campinas Andrei Von Zubena explains that such rapid surge could be due to a new variant of the coronavirus: P.1 that has been circulating in the city since mid-January. In addition to be more contagious, the new variant seems to be more deadlier as well. It also affects young people more intensely.

You are talking about overcrowded hospitals. Healthcare workers are on the verge of endurance. The doctor told how medics cry out of exhaustion and desperation, admits Dr. Hermeto Paschoalick, head of the intensive care unit in Mato Grosso do Sul state. 

There is no doubt that the Brazilian healthcare system is overburdened. This is most evident in the capital of the Amazonas state: Manaus. I do not know any doctors personally, but from information from my friends, I can conclude that the health service is accompanied by emotional fatigue and long-term stress related to working in difficult conditions.

After all, it has been over a year of difficult and pressurized work with health and often their lives at risk. Brazilian doctors are certainly also concerned about a new variant of the virus: P.1. It is even said in the medical community that a new pandemic is coming, not another wave of coronavirus.

Many doctors hope that if a large percentage of the population is vaccinated, the pandemic will ease and give the Brazilian health service some respite.

However, medics do not appear in the media asking for help, nor do they appear at demonstrations with that intention. Most of the media show the tragic situation of hospitals and the heavy workload of the Brazilian health service.

The P.1 mutation spreading in Brazil turns out to be twice as contagious as previous coronavirus variants. What’s more, it is more dangerous for younger people because it shows greater resistance to the immune system. With this in mind, doctors agree that stays at home, lockdown, and immunization of the population are key to fighting the coronavirus.

In mid-March 2021, Governor João Doria announced that he would adopt tougher action in the state of São Paulo. Forecasts assume that the Brazilian government will suspend church services, sports championships and close schools completely.

The city of São Paulo also switched to the so-called the “emergency phase”, which is more restrictive than before. There was a curfew, imposing a limit on purchases in supermarkets and bakeries to one person per family.

It looks like the large spike in deaths and the new coronavirus mutation will extend the lockdown in major Brazilian cities for a long time to come, Alicia reports.

Precautionary Measures People Take

Most of them follow the recommendations on using distance, wearing a mask and taking care of hygiene. What’s more, I have not met here with issuing fines for not wearing a mask, e.g. on the street, as it was in Poland. Most Brazilians simply stick to these principles as part of collective responsibility.

Shops and supermarkets have a very restrictive approach to this topic. I was in this situation myself. While shopping, the mask slipped off my nose and at the same time an employee of the store approached me and asked me to put it on correctly.

It seems that in Brazil, the fact of wearing a mask and the principle of social distancing does not face that much public opposition, Alicia states.

However, the business sector is doing worse. Many people, just like in Poland, had to close their primary source of income overnight without much support from the government. Many small businesses operated illegally as a result, opening themselves “from the back office” and thus accepting customers. This situation is certainly very dissatisfied and opposed to such large restrictions in this sector.

Moreover, the deteriorating economic situation has hit a significantly poorer part of the society. So much so that food and basic necessities are still distributed in the streets. It also shows how Brazilians can show solidarity and help each other in this difficult, pandemic time.

The Situation in Amazon, Indigenous People

The Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI) reports that at this point in time, the number of confirmed cases among Indigenous Peoples is 45,858, including the number of deaths of Indigenous Indians living in cities: 1,023 and residents of remote areas: 627. SESAI recently announced vaccinations is carried out among 6,310 inhabitants of the state of Rondônia.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic could have very serious consequences for the indigenous peoples. Natives are more prone to viruses, especially respiratory infections such as COVID-19.

Moreover, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) estimates that due to the high spread rate of the coronavirus as well as the greater susceptibility of the natives to the virus, there is a risk of genocide of indigenous peoples in the midst of a pandemic. To prevent this black scenario, numerous measures are taken to protect indigenous territories and restrict movement imposed on outsiders, says Alicia.

Limited amounts of medical supplies, poor adherence and, above all, increased susceptibility to COVID-19 are coupling up, posing a huge problem for Brazil’s indigenous peoples.

President Bolsonaro, His Denial, and Change of Mind

Jair Bolsonaro is actually against the introduction and tightening of lockdowns in the states of Brazil and restrictions that will have a negative impact on the economy.

Despite his objections and the firing of the Ministers of Health in turn, the economic situation in Brazil and in many other countries inevitably deteriorated, which was to be expected. After more than a year of a pandemic, his actions seem to be aimed at protecting citizens from infection.

A few days ago, President Bolsonaro made an official speech in which he named 2021 as the year of vaccination of Brazilians. He claimed that the plan would be implemented by the end of this year.

During this speech, the so-called panelaço, i.e. tapping on pots, which only confirms the public’s lack of faith in the president’s words. In practice, vaccinations take place, but it is not known how long the whole process will actually take, states Alicia.

Bolsonaro’s Objection to Vaccination, People’s Reaction

The vast majority of Brazilians want to get vaccinated. I haven’t seen the anti-vaccine movement here. Brazil’s citizens have high hopes for improving the pandemic through vaccination.

Vaccination has already been given to health care workers, the elderly at risk, and employees of schools and kindergartens.

There is currently a debate over the vaccination of employees of multinational companies that have branches in Brazil. It is also worth adding that Brazil, like other countries, has already purchased vaccines for the entire population, but as we know they are either in the process or in production.

How About Tourism in the Country? Can You Pay a Visit?

Tourism in Brazil is currently very limited due to Brazil being one of the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the world. On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we can receive information that a trip to Brazil is not recommended and is associated with the risk of difficulties in returning to the country, which result from air traffic restrictions between Europe and Brazil.

Despite the difficult situation in Brazil, the entry of foreigners to the territory of Brazil is allowed after meeting the relevant migration requirements and having an entry visa in accordance with Brazilian law. After crossing the Brazilian border, travelers have a 14-day quarantine.

Personally, I did not cross borders during the pandemic, but all procedures are similar to those in other countries. As a rule, you must have a PCR test performed before departure, which is accepted by most airlines. At the largest airport in Brazil – Garulhos in São Paulo, such tests can be performed directly on site. In order to do so, please show up a few hours before departure.

Hotels during a pandemic are mostly open, provided that all hygienic restrictions are respected, while tourist attractions are rather closed when it comes to, for example, museums. Even access to most beaches is restricted and they alternate between opening and closing. So, from the tourism point of view, it is unfortunately not a good time to travel in Brazil.

How is the pandemic situation in your country? What precautionary health measures are you taking to save yourselves and your loved ones?


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