COVID-19 new variant surge creating havoc in Amazonas without oxygen in hospitals

A new COVID-19 variant has caused a spike in cases and deaths in Brazil's Amazonas, leading to lack of oxygen chaos and a curfew

Amazonas' capital Manaus, meeting of Health secretary Franco Duarte with governor of Amazonas and authorities. Photo: Euzivaldo Queiroz for Brazilian Health Ministry/Fotos Públicas
  • An aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force landed on Thursday with oxygen coming from São Paulo;
  • Because of the new strain identified in Amazonas, the UK government has banned all flights from South America.

Manaus, capital of Amazona’s state, has befallen in a humanitarian tragedy. Without oxygen in hospitals, health professionals have been trying to prevent patients with COVID-19 from dying asphyxiated by manual ventilation. According to Brazil’s O Tempo, 750 patients began to be transferred on the Brazilian Air Force planes to hospitals in five other states.

READ ALSO: Vaccination against COVID-19 will begin on January 20, say Brazilian mayors

White Martins, responsible for the oxygen supply in the hospitals, managed to send some cylinders to Amazonas and promised to bring oxygen from Venezuela, where it also operates.

An aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force landed on Thursday with oxygen coming from São Paulo. But the demand is daily in the health centers of Manaus. Brazil’s government also asked the United States to help to send planes with gas tanks.

READ ALSO: Brazil’s delay in vaccine distribution adds risk to economic recovery

The surge in COVID-19 in Amazonas is attached to a new coronavirus variant. The moving average of deaths in the last seven days rose 183% compared to the previous two weeks – the average increase across the country was 41%. For the first time, more than 3,800 cases were recorded in a single day. On Thursday, 51 people died in Amazonas state.

To prevent new infections and the overload of care system, Amazonas’ governor Wilson Lima decreed a curfew in the Amazon capital, from 7 pm to 6 am, except for essential service workers. Pharmacies will only be able to serve deliveries, and all passenger transport, including river transportation, is suspended.

Because of the new strain identified in Amazonas, Britain will ban arrivals from South American countries and Portugal (also added to the list because of close travel links with Brazil) due to concerns over the new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, a move slammed by Portugal’s government as “absurd”.

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