Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, is on the brink of collapse as its healthcare system is unable to keep up with the demand for hospital beds for COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to ignore the imposition of even the most common sense anti-coronavirus measures, such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks in public.
Sao Paulo mayor Bruno Covas has stated that the city’s public hospitals have reached 90 percent of their capacity and could run out of space for new COVID-19 patients in as little as two weeks.
Covas further stated that the people of Sao Paulo who were disobeying lockdown protocols were guilty of “playing Russian roulette” with other people’s lives.
The state of Sao Paulo is one of the hardest hit regions in Brazil by the Wuhan coronavirus. As of press time, it has 63,066 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 4,823 deaths. (Related: Brazil now on its way to becoming Latin America’s coronavirus hotspot; Manaus now a land of the dead.)
While Brazil’s Pres Bolsonaro irresponsibly denies that the coronavirus poses a threat, the mayor of Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, says its public hospitals had reached 90% capacity and could run out of space in about two weeks. https://t.co/b6h7Zh3lFR pic.twitter.com/LBugUjeQd9
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) May 18, 2020
Mayor of Sao Paulo plans to introduce strict lockdown measures to protect hospitals
“The city is coming to the limit of options,” said Covas to journalists on May 17. “We need to decide if we want to test the limits, or if we will be prudent and firmly maintain social isolation for the time needed so that the health system doesn’t collapse. We are closer than we would like.”
The state of Sao Paulo, the epicenter of the Brazilian coronavirus pandemic, has been under a state of lockdown since March 24. All businesses, schools and public spaces were shut down and people were ordered to stay at home. While this lockdown seemed strict on paper, the penalties for breaking quarantine were not severe, and plenty of Brazilians still chose to leave their homes, which helped spread the disease. Even the mandatory rule of wearing face masks has been flouted.
Government data showed that in March, at the beginning of Sao Paulo’s lockdown, more than 60 percent of residents sheltered at home and the spread of the virus had slowed down. However, in the last few weeks, the amount of people in Sao Paulo who were following quarantine protocols had fallen below 50 percent and the coronavirus began spreading more rapidly throughout the city.
Furthermore, maintaining quarantine has been difficult for the residents of the city’s favelas, or slums, who have to keep going to work in order to maintain a regular income.
Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria began relaxing the state’s lockdown restrictions on May 11. However, it seems that residents of Sao Paulo city may have to wait a little longer; Covas stated that he has been in talks with Doria over implementing even stricter lockdown measures to prevent hospitals from reaching breaking point.
Coordination between the mayor and the governor is necessary because the state government controls the police, and their support will be necessary if the plan to maintain the lockdown continues.
The city of Sao Paulo, one of the largest in the world, has a population of 12 million, and data from the Brazilian government shows that most of the city’s residents are ignoring social distancing guidelines.
President Bolsonaro continues to resist common sense anti-coronavirus policies
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro continues to be criticized for his disastrous handling of the country’s coronavirus pandemic. He has been spotted several times participating in rallies. He has stated that the threat of COVID-19 is being “overstated” and that it’s nothing more than a “little flu.” When asked about Brazil’s mounting death toll, he responded by saying “So what?”
On May 17, he defied global health advice even further when he posed for photographs with supporters and their children.
In another engagement, he met with a group of men who were wearing similar military outfits. The whole group, including Bolsonaro, said a prayer for Brazil and then dropped to the ground and did several pushups.
Bolsonaro continues to ignore the threat of the coronavirus and has repeatedly called for Brazil to reopen its economy. He has even argued that most of Brazil had nothing to fear from COVID-19.
“With my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus I would have no reason to worry,” said Bolsonaro. “I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu.”
Brazil currently has 254,220 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 16,792 deaths. The country now has the third highest number of coronavirus cases, next to Russia and the United States. It is also one of the few large countries in the world where infection and death rates are still rising.
Pandemic.news has more news and stories on how Brazil and other countries are handling the coronavirus pandemic.