The mayor of Rio de Janeiro ordered a coronavirus “curfew” in hopes of preventing the coastal city from repeating the Covid-19 “genocide” last year when it was struck by the disease.
The nightly ban, which Mayor Eduardo Paes said would last from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., was announced as hospitals across Brazil collapsed under pressure from a crippling surge in infections and the South American country suffered its worst day of losses since the pandemic began.
In a open letterBrazilian scientists urged the federal government to declare an immediate 14-day shutdown, claiming that it was now the only way to avoid a catastrophe of “despair and death.”
“The country can no longer afford to wait,” warned the Observatório Covid-19 BR group, which attributed the increase in infection to the collapse of social distancing, government inaction and the spread of the new P1 variant, apparently more infectious, linked to the Amazon. Manaus city.
Such restrictions seem inconceivable under Jair Bolsonaro, the president and a former Trump admiring paratrooper whose handling of the epidemic has been condemned internationally, earning him the nickname “Captain Corona.”
“If it’s up to me, there will be no closure,” the far-right populist declared Wednesday, as a record 1,840 deaths raised Brazil’s official death toll to nearly 260,000.
Former Brazilian Health Minister José Gomes Temporão said his country had suffered a total leadership blackout at a time when it most needed direction.
“The truth is that our state governors and mayors have been left to their own devices,” Temporão said, denouncing what he called Bolsonaro’s “criminal approach” to Covid-19.
“It is not just about omission, disorganization or incompetence,” Temporão added, highlighting Bolsonaro’s relentless weakening of containment measures, the lack of procurement of sufficient vaccines and the anti-scientific promotion of unproven remedies such as hydroxychloroquine.
“We are talking about a determined, repeated, sustained and stubborn stance that has set out to destroy all the country’s capabilities to fight the pandemic.”
Mayor Paes said that Rio’s restrictions, which will take effect on Friday and initially last one week, were designed to prevent a repeat of “the genocide that Rio suffered in 2020.” Shops, restaurants and bars must close at 5pm, while nightclubs, street markets and music venues must close. Samba parties are also prohibited.
“[Last year] Twice as many people died in Rio as in São Paulo, which has twice the population. The goal is to prevent this from happening again in 2021, ”Paes told reporters.
Critics say the measures are woefully inadequate. So far, Rio’s hospitals are in better shape than in cities like Porto Alegre, Salvador and São Paulo, where some intensive care units have been left without beds entirely. But local doctors are bracing for a similar explosion in patients. “We are preparing to be really well and truly fit,” a frontline doctor told The Guardian via text message.
Temporão said Brazil’s “prolonged agony”, which comes as some neighbors, such as Argentina, cautiously begin to reopen, was largely the fault of one man.
“Today in Brazil we are facing a political crisis, a very serious economic crisis, a social crisis, a public health crisis and an ethical crisis.
“Brazil is learning in a very hard and sad way the price a society pays for having a totally disconnected government and oblivious to the fate of its fellow citizens,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism