March 23rd, 2020.
After Brazilian authorities have warned the public about the upcoming arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic within the next weeks, government officials began to question whether the country’s health system will be able to withstand the number of people infected by the novel coronavirus. São Paulo state governor João Dória has followed the example of several European countries and issued a complete shutdown of all cities for the next fifteen days. Governors from other major states have also ordered a full quarantine in their states, sparking a controversial reaction from Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who called Dória “a lunatic”, and described the disease as “a mild flu”. Meanwhile, federal courts have requested the medical records of all passengers who escorted Bolsonaro during his recent trip to the United States, after 22 members of his entourage have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Italy is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, and is desperately trying to make its citizens stop leaving their homes after nearly 1.5 million people have been caught “sneaking out” despite government orders not to do so. Finally, the Chinese government has announced the country is entering its “post-pandemic” stage, after registering three deaths from the novel coronavirus infection since last Friday.
Take a look at our highlights.
78 percent of Brazil’s ICU beds are occupied: can it stand the coronavirus peak?
Brazilian government officials and medical authorities have been constantly repeating during the last weeks that a patient overload in intensive care beds is one the country’s main risks related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said that between April and June the country is likely to face “60 to 90 days of extreme stress” in its healthcare system. Italy’s unfortunate example, where hospitals are on the verge of collapsing, is being studied in order to determine priorities, and new temporary facilities are being erected in large spaces available in major cities, like São Paulo’s Pacaembu Stadium and Anhembi Convention Center.
São Paulo state governor orders complete shutdown for fifteen days
São Paulo governor João Dória has issued an official 15-day quarantine throughout the state, ordering the shutdown of all non-essential businesses and services, as well as all local airports and bus terminals, in order to try to slow down the spread of COVID-19 cases throughout the nation’s most populous state. Up to Friday, São Paulo had 459 confirmed cases, and 15 deaths. Other governors, from Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Distrito Federal, and others, quickly followed suit, and president Jair Bolsonaro responded by calling Dória “a lunatic”, calling the disease a “mild flu” and the governor’s reaction “a hysteria”.
Courts force hospital which tended to Bolsonaro’s entourage to release medical records
On Friday, the Federal Court of Brazil’s Distrito Federal ordered the Armed Forces Hospital to immediately release to the district’s government authorities the full list of all patients infected by the novel coronavirus who took part in president Jair Bolsonaro’s recent trip to the United States. Bolsonaro posted on his social media accounts an alleged exam made at the hospital claiming he had not been infected, but so far 22 other members of his entourage during the trip, on which he held a dinner with US president Donald Trump, have tested positive. A daily fine of R$ 50 thousand will be imposed on the hospital’s director for each patient who has his record withdrawn.
Italians disrespect quarantine in single-day death toll record
On Saturday, Italy experienced its most catastrophic day during the last two weeks: 793 people died within 24 hours, raising the total number of COVID-19 victims to 4,825, a figure larger than China’s, where the global pandemic originated. Despite its previous pleas, the Italian government was forced to declare “war”, and loudspeakers were set up in Rome asking people not to leave their homes. However, over 1.5 million had already been caught sneaking out, in order to jog or walk their dogs, ignoring punishments like fines or even detentions.
China begins its post-pandemic stage
On Friday, Chinese authorities and World Health Organization officials announced that, for the first time since December, the city of Wuhan, epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, had not registered any case of a novel coronavirus infection within 24 hours. According to WHO’s director-general, the city “provides hope for the rest of the world that even the most severe situation can be turned around.” After recording 81 thousand cases, less than 7 thousand remained hospitalized in China on Friday – most of them people who came from other countries – and less than three people died from the virus since.