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 & Portugal, in 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
“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 ”
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.
The road that borders the State of Amazonas will be inspected and airports should increase the control of passengers coming from the neighboring State