By Sarah Adamo
Brazil has recorded an unprecedented number of daily deaths related to Covid-19 amid the country’s second wave, according to CNN.
The South American republic has the highest death toll due to Covid-19 in the world, surpassing every country besides the U.S., BBC News reports. As a result, intensive care wards designed to treat Covid patients are at critical occupancy levels of more than 90% in 15 of 27 state capitals, Reuters adds.
With a death count of over 270,000 in total and averaging more than 1,600 deaths per day, the nation has set an incalculably dangerous world record. The latest surge is believed to be linked to a new variant of the virus, referred to as P1, that may have derived in the city of Manaus, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, according to BBC News.
Worsening the crisis, the main reference hospital for Covid-19 of Porto Alegre in southern Brazil is denying admission to incoming citizens in consequence, Reuters reports. Hospital director Claudio Oliveira reported to the news source that they have “reached capacity and people need to become aware of how bad the situation is.”
Many citizens whose loved ones lost their lives to the virus are experiencing difficulties finding a resting place for the deceased. Hospitals in Brasília, the country’s capital, and others in the south are renting refrigerated shipping containers to store corpses because they cannot find room in their on-site morgues, The Wall Street Journal reports. Certain cemeteries in Campo Grande and other cities in the central-western section of Brazil have cleared their parking lots to create new gravesites as well, the journal continued.
Despite this formidable devastation, many Brazilians are neglecting the protocol intended to prevent the spread of the virus. As CNN reports, President Jair Bolsonaro insists that people need to “stop being sissies” about the pandemic and refuses to declare a national lockdown or enforce other Covid-19 regulations.
In conjunction with the president’s statements, the federal government of Brazil lags behind European and North American calls to increase inoculations. As it stands, only 2% of 210 million Brazilians are fully vaccinated, according to The Wall Street Journal.
One professor of public health at São Paulo University, Gonzalo Vecina Neto, identifies violations on gathering restrictions as the primary obstacle to curbing the nation’s Covid-related fatalities. Examining the “worst-case scenario” that now afflicts Brazil, Neto reports that “This situation could have been avoided and the most important factor is gatherings,” Neto told CNN.
Other healthcare workers reinforce his statement, pointing to the large parties and gatherings that began around New Year’s Eve and are still prevalent today as the main centers of the heightened death toll.
An updated study cited in The Wall Street Journal indicates that the new strain of the coronavirus in Brazil is 1.4 to 2.2 times more contagious than its predecessor, and that the likelihood of reinfection is 25 to 61% higher.