For the first time, Brazil has registered more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in only 24 hours. The Health Minister, on Tuesday, said, the country reeled from the surge of infections that have made Brazil an epicentre of the pandemic.
The virus claimed 4,195 lives on the deadliest day of the pandemic yet for the hard-hit country whose total reported death toll is nearly 3,37,000, second only to the United States.
Brazil’s most populated Sao Paulo state with 46 million residents has registered almost 1400 deaths. According to the health officials, this figure was due to the Easter holiday that delayed the count.
The health system of Brazil is buckling under the strain of the latest virus that has force doctors into agonising decisions over which patients to give life-saving care.
The epidemiologist Ethel Maciel said, “We’re in a dreadful situation, and we’re not seeing effective measures by either state or federal governments”.
She added, “At the rate we’re vaccinating — 10 percent of the population (with a first dose) so far — the only way to slow the extremely fast spread of the virus is an effective lockdown for at least 20 days”. “Unfortunately, politics has brought us where we are today: This enormous number of people who have lost their lives. Very sad.”
For President Jair Bolsonaro, the health crisis seems to be turning into a political one. His long expert advice on containing pandemic and is now facing severe pressure from allies in Congress and the business sector to bring the situation under control.
Local authorities argue that the number of cases and hospitalizations are trending downward after a week of the partial shutdown.
Miguel Lago, an executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies says, “Mayors and Governors are politically prohibited from beefing up social distancing policies as they know supporters of the president, that includes business leaders, will sabotage it”.
Jair Bolsorano who has long downplayed the risks of the COVID-19, remains completely against lockdowns as it damages the economy.
More than 90% of the beds in intensive care units are being used by the patients of COVID-19 in most Brazilian states even though the figures have been stable for the past week. Still, hundreds of them are dying since they wait for care and basic supplies as oxygen and sedatives are running out in many states.
According to an online research site, less than 3 per cent of Brazil’s 210 million people have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The justices of Brazil’s Supreme Court started a tug of war about reopening religious buildings that were shut by many local authorities despite a decision by the federal government to label them as a part of essential services.
Some of the Churches were stopped by Mayors and Governors; however, others welcomed their faithful Easter Sunday.
The reopening will be settled at the high court on Wednesday, but some local councils like Belo Horizonte, voted on Tuesday to keep the religious buildings open.
Moreover, a Rio de Janerio judge allowed the schools to reopen as Mayor Eduardo wanted this. Some hours later, the mayors of Campinas and Sorocabs, two states of Sao Paulo agreed to reopen business with a drive-thru purchase system after a halt of 10-days.
The professional Soccer executives in Sao Paulo added they expect to play games this week after a 15-day interruption and promising the local prosecutors that they will follow some rigid health protocols.
According to Fiocruz, 92 variants has been detected of COVID-19 in the country, that includes the P1 Brazil variant that became a cause of concern as it is thought to be highly contagious.
It is considered to have emerged in Amazonas state in November 2020 and spreading faster in capital Manaus, where it accounted for 73% of cases by January 2021 according to figures analyzed by researchers in Brazil.
This country of 212 million people has registered an average of 2,757 COVID-19 deaths every day over the past week that is the highest by far worldwide.
It has recorded 160 deaths per 100,000 people. It is behind countries such as Czech Republic (254) and Britain (187) but is still one of the 10 highest rates in the world.
The intensive care units (ICUs) are more than 90% full in 18 of Brazil’s 27 states, as per public health institute Fiocruz. Two of the rest are in the “critical alert zone” of more than 80% occupancy.
According to the experts, the surge is partly due to a local variant of the virus that is known as P1 that may re-infect people who have the original strain and is believed to be much more contagious.
The government has struggled to secure enough vaccines, at times forcing authorities to suspend immunization drives in some areas.
The experts fear that the proliferation of the Brazil variant will mean increasing cases for a number of months.