While Brazil adds more than a thousand deaths from coronavirus in a single day, Amazon went on alert due to lack of oxygenor to assist patients with Covid-19. The health collapse that the state is experiencing since last week began to generate critical situations in the municipalities of the interior, where at least 14 people died from asphyxia.
The operation mounted by the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Armed Forces to address the serious oxygen deficit in the Amazon benefited almost exclusively Manaus, the regional capital and from where the vital element would have to be supplied to the municipalities of the interior.
But the oxygen sent to Manaus was only enough to serve the hospitals of the largest city in the Amazon and it is not being distributed, denounced this Tuesday the Mayor’s Office of Coari, a municipality in the interior in which seven patients with covid-19 died this Tuesday of asphyxia due to lack of oxygen cylinders.
Relatives of patients infected with Covid-19 face hours of waiting from early in the morning to refill their oxygen cylinders. Photo EFE / RAPHAEL ALVES.
Seven other patients, all from the same family (great-grandmother, two grandparents, two parents and two uncles), also died of asphyxia due to lack of oxygen cylinders in Faro, a municipality in the neighboring state of Pará which, due to its proximity to Manaus , is supplied by waterway from the capital of Amazonas.
According to a statement from the mayor’s office of Coari, which is 450 kilometers from Manaus by river, the patients were admitted to the Regional Hospital and they were waiting for 40 oxygen cylinders that were due to arrive on Monday, which did not happen because the plane in which they were transported made a stopover in the city of Tefé and could not continue its route.
The Coari mayor’s office attributed responsibility for the deaths to the lack of planning by the Amazonas Health Secretariat and said that at least 200 oxygen cylinders from that city are being held in Manaus awaiting recharging.
A group of people await their vaccination in the state of Amazonas. Photo REUTERS / Adriano Machado.
According to the municipality, the regional Ministry of Health privileged the supply of hospitals in Manaus and ignored the needs of the municipalities in the interior.
The collapse in Manaus also had reflections in Tefé and Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, isolated cities in the middle of the Amazon and where the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) set up field hospitals to treat patients with covid-19.
“The most serious thing about the crisis is that Manaus’ capacity to produce oxygen meets only one third of current demand and leaves hospitals without conditions to offer the input to patients, with a large number of accounts of people dying from suffocation, “Doctors Without Borders said in a note.
According to the international organization, this crisis is already reflected in the cities of the interior of the state “and the consequences can be equally devastating.”
A group of people wait to receive the vaccine. Photo AP Photo / Andre Borges).
The organization said it had donated 50 oxygen cylinders to the Tefé Regional Hospital but that it has not been possible to recharge them in Manaus.
MSF also said that the number of hospitalized in Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira quintupled in the first week of January compared to the end of December and that this increase also raises concerns about a depletion of available oxygen.
With more than 232,000 cases and 6,300 deaths from covid-19, the state of Amazonas is experiencing a serious health collapse since last week not only because of the shortage of oxygen but also of beds for the growing number of patients.
The situation forced the Government to declare a curfew of eleven hours a day and the Ministry of Defense to mount an operation with military planes to transport oxygen to Manaus and transfer patients with covid-19 to other cities.
According to the governor of Amazonas, Wilson Lima, oxygen consumption in hospitals in this state rose from an average of 15,000 cubic meters per day at the end of last year to 76,000 cubic meters daily this week, and White Martins, the only supplying company in the region, only has the capacity to produce 28,200 cubic meters per day.
The scenes of raids in hospitals, desperate and exhausted doctors, overflowing cemeteries and relatives of patients begging for oxygen or buying it on the black market have generated an intense mobilization throughout Brazil, and various artists, soccer players and social groups have financed and organized loads of oxygen cylinders to be shipped to the Amazon.
Brazil, with 210 million inhabitants, is one of the epicenters of the pandemic; the second country with the most deaths in the world from covid-19 after the United States, with more than 211,000 deaths, and the third with the most infections, with 8.57 million cases.