Manaus (Brazil) (AFP) – Bodies are piling up in refrigerated trucks outside overwhelmed hospitals. Doctors are in short supply. Bulldozers are digging mass graves at cemeteries. And the worst of the pandemic is yet to come. Welcome to Manaus, the now chaotic and desperate riverside capital of vast Amazonas state as it grapples with the highest coronavirus mortality rate of any such city in Brazil. The daily death rate here has shot up from 20 or 30 pre-pandemic to 100 a day in a matter of weeks after the city recorded its first case on March 13. And an already weak health care system has simply collapsed.
The pandemic has also reached extremely vulnerable indigenous communities in a state so huge it can take days of travel by boat to reach outlying towns and villages. “It is a scene out of a horror movie. We are no longer in a state of emergency but rather of absolute calamity,” Manaus Mayor Virgilio Neto told AFP by telephone. “People are dying at home, some perhaps because they got no medical care,” Neto said. He fears these are coronavirus deaths. Amazonas is the fifth hardest hit in Brazil by the pandemic, with 2,479 cases and 207 reported deaths as of Tuesday. But Manaus, with a population of 1.7 million, has the highest mortality rate of any of Brazil’s 27 state capitals.
President Jair Bolsonaro may have initially downplayed the danger of the virus, as did his political ally US President Donald Trump, but now this giant of a country has more cases of infection and deaths than any other in Latin America: more than 45,000 and more than 2,900, respectively. Public health experts say the figures could actually be a staggering 15 times higher in reality, because of scant COVID-19 testing. Hospitals in Manaus are struggling to cope with the rising number of cases. Some have set up refrigerators inside trucks to store bodies. –Yahoo News