Friday, January 15, 2021

Brazil: Amazonas Transfers 235 COVID Cases To Other States Amid Critical Oxygen Shortage

Amazonas State, Brazil - Credit Wikipedia


It was only 48 hours ago (see Virological: Another E484K South American Variant To Ponder) that we saw the first details of a new, emerging COVID variant spreading in Amazonas State, in northern Brazil.  A variant that turned up in 4 travelers to Japan earlier this month

According to the Amazonas government website, as Jan 13th they had confirmed 219,544 COVID cases in the state, of which 91,461 were from the capital Manaus (41.66%) and 128,083 from the interior of the state (58.34%).

While there is much we don't know about this emerging variant, yesterday the UK Ordered a Travel Ban From South America & Portugalin hopes of preventing its spread to their country. 

A quick perusal of the government website's news feed shows that up until a few days ago COVID reports were frequent, but not overly alarmist. Over the past 72 hours, however, the tone has changed abruptly, with reports of severe oxygen shortages and overwhelmed hospitals. 

A few examples include:

Security forces apprehend truck carrying 33 oxygen cylinders in Manaus 01:30 - 01/15/2021

Soldiers of the Military Police transport and secure 150 oxygen cylinders 01:29 - 1/15/2021

Covid-19: Amazonas Government administratively requests oxygen from 18 PIM industries 11:12 pm - 1/14/2021

Yesterday, the The Amazonas Military Police (PMAM) announced plans to reinforce policing in hospitals in Manaus to ensure the safety of health professionals and the flow of work, while the government imposed a statewide (7pm-6am) curfew for the next 10 days.

Local media have described hospitals as `suffocation chambers' as reports of hospitals running out of oxygen increase. For a less hyperbolic report, we have this overnight from Reuters Brazil's Amazonas state running out of oxygen as COVID-19 surges'.

Late yesterday the decision was made to evacuate more than 230 COVID patients to other states due to the lack of oxygen and hospitals being overwhelmed. The governor of Amazonas, Wilson Lima, stated:
“We are at the most critical moment of the pandemic. Something unprecedented in the state of Amazonas, where we face many difficulties in obtaining inputs. The main difficulty nowadays has been the acquisition of oxygen ”

The following government announcement describes the situation in more detail. 

Government will transfer 235 patients with Covid-19 for treatment in other states
16:35 - 1/14/2021

How much of this surge is driven by the new variant is uncertain, but it likely exacerbates the situation. 

The latest daily report epidemiological report (Jan 14th) from Amazonas state indicates 3,816 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the previous 24 hours.   

Meanwhile the governor of neighboring Pará state announced new measures to restrict land, river, and air travel to and from Amazonas state. 

Governor announces new measures to prevent the proliferation of Covid-19 in Pará

The road that borders the State of Amazonas will be inspected and airports should increase the control of passengers coming from the neighboring State