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Brazil hospitals ‘close to collapse’ as Covid deaths hit record numbers

Brazil recorded 1,972 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, its highest daily toll of the pandemic so far

Namita Singh
Wednesday 10 March 2021 07:00 GMT
Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to ‘stop whining’ as death toll surge
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The health system in Brazil is on the brink of collapse as pressures from the Covid pandemic show no sign of easing, according to the country’s leading public health research institution.

While other major nations are starting to see the benefit of Covid vaccination programmes and lockdowns, Brazil recorded a record 1,972 Covid-19 related deaths on Tuesday, adding to a toll of more than 268,000 and nearly 11 million confirmed cases since the global outbreak began.

The Rio de Janeiro-based Fiocruz Institute said that hospitals across the country’s 27 states were all reaching the limits of their intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, with more than 80 per cent of ICU beds in state capitals occupied.

A Fiocruz report found that in at least 15 of these state capitals, ICU occupancy is over 90 per cent.

The figures indicate “overload and even collapse of health systems”, BBC News quoted the institute as saying. “Researchers reinforce the need to expand and strengthen measures involving physical and social distance, wearing masks and cleaning hands.”

The spike in the cases, combined with the shortage of ICU beds, last week prompted the National Council of Health Secretaries to call for lockdowns and curfews in many parts of the country.

The council in an open letter said that there should be “restriction at the maximum level” in regions where more than 85 per cent of hospital beds are occupied and trending up, so as to “to avoid the imminent national collapse of the public and private health care networks.”

“The return of the pandemic in several states is making their private and their public assistance networks collapse and has brought the imminent risk of spreading it to all regions of Brazil,” the letter from the council, which represents the nation’s 27 health secretaries, had said.

Yet, despite the consistent warning from experts, president Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the threat posed by the pandemic. On Friday the president told Brazilians to “stop whining” about the coronavirus outbreak, as he criticised measures to curb the virus.

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