Amazonas becomes 1st Brazilian state to reopen public schools

Sao Paulo, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- Amazonas, a state where health and funeral services had been strained to the breaking point amid a barrage of coronavirus cases and deaths, has become the first Brazilian federative unit to start reopening its public schools following a five-month hiatus.

With Covid-19 apparently now under control there, nearly 110,000 high-school students returned to their classrooms Monday at public schools in the state capital of Manaus.

But no date has yet been announced for the resumption of in-person instruction at public schools elsewhere in that far-western state, where classes will continue to be taught exclusively online.

A state with 4 million inhabitants that borders Colombia, Venezuela and Peru, Amazonas had registered 106,950 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,359 Covid-19 deaths through Sunday.

Furthermore, that state’s case fatality rate stands at 81 per 100,000 inhabitants, far above the CFR of 48.1 for Brazil as a whole, according to the Health Ministry’s figures.

(The CFR differs from the infection fatality rate, or the proportion of deaths among all infected individuals. The IFR is invariably lower than the CFR but is difficult to calculate because, according to the World Health Organization, a substantial proportion of Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic or very mild and therefore go undetected)

The coronavirus situation in Amazonas, a vast state in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, improved several weeks ago and remains stable despite an easing of the social-distancing measures imposed in June and the return of private-school students to their classrooms a month ago.

Public elementary schools in Manaus, Amazonas’ largest city, are scheduled to reopen their doors on Aug. 24.

Amazonas’ government says it has invested around 10 million reais (roughly $2 million) on coronavirus-mitigation measures at schools, including installing more sinks and providing alcohol gel dispensers to facilitate regular hand washing and disinfecting.

Authorities also have pledged to distribute reusable cloth masks among students, who only will attend school in-person every other day to promote social distancing.

But the resumption of face-to-face classroom teaching in Brazil’s 25 other states and the federal district (Brasilia) is shrouded in uncertainty.

The government of the southeastern state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous with 46 million inhabitants and the one hardest hit by the pandemic with more than 600,000 confirmed cases and 25,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19, has pushed back the return of normal schooling for another month – until Oct. 7.

Other states, including Maranhao and Rio de Janeiro, announced last week the resumption of in-person instruction at private schools only.

The United States and Brazil, both of which are among the world’s six most-populous countries, rank first and second, respectively, in confirmed coronavirus cases and Covid-19-related deaths. EFE-EPA


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