By Maria Angelica Troncoso
Rio de Janeiro, Feb 27 (efe-epa).- Various levels of lockdown were in effect Saturday in 13 of Brazil’s 27 states as Covid-19 showed no sign of loosening its grip on the giant South American nation.
With 254,221 deaths, Brazil is second only to the United States in the number of lives lost to coronavirus and its 10.52 million confirmed cases constitute the world’s third-highest total behind the US and India.
Thursday, when 1,541 people died of Covid-19, was Brazil’s second deadliest day of the pandemic.
Daily average fatalities have been running at upwards of 1,000, while infections are growing at the rate of nearly 50,000 a day, a situation that “cannot be treated as a new normal,” according to Margareth Portela, part of the Covid-19 team at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Latin America’s largest medical research center.
After appearing to flatten in September, the contagion curve has risen inexorably, she said.
In 17 state capitals, more than 80 percent of hospital intensive care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients, Fiocruz says in a report, speaking of “the worst scenario ever seen” since coronavirus was first detected in Brazil a year ago Friday.
None of the 27 states are experiencing declines in the rate of new infections and deaths, Fiocruz says.
Curfews ranging in duration from seven to 10 hours were implemented Friday night in the states of Sao Paulo, Ceara, Parana, Paraiba, Bahia, Piaui, Mato Grosso and Pernambuco.
Mato Grosso do Sul extended for two weeks the curfew imposed on Dec. 11 and other states, including Acre and Santa Catarina, ratcheted up existing restrictions.
In Brasilia, the federal capital, Sunday will mark the start of an open-ended shutdown of all activity save essential services and religious rites.
The curfew in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s wealthiest and most populous state, took effect at 11:00 pm Friday, but plenty of people remained on the streets of Sao Paulo city.
A small group of people dressed in matching T-shirts gathered on Avenida Paulista, the city’s main thoroughfare, to chant “Lockdown No!” and demand the ouster of state Gov. Joao Doria.
While authorities had announced fines for people violating the curfew, police limited themselves to issuing warnings.
The greater virulence of the second wave seems to be the result of the emergence of new mutations, including the so-called Brazilian variant.
Fiocruz says that only mass vaccination will bring the pandemic under control in Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro-based Fiocruz, which is linked to the federal health ministry, and Instituto Butantan, a unit of the Sao Paulo state health department, have each obtained licenses to produce Covid-19 vaccines in Brazil. EFE