Brazilian doctors medevac indigenous COVID-19 cases to Amazon city

MANAUS: The novel coronavirus is spreading so fast among the indigenous people in the furthest parts of Brazil's Amazon rainforest that doctors are now evacuating critical COVID-19 patients by plane to the only intensive care units in the vast region.

"The number of COVID-19 patients has increased a lot. We are flying more planes (up the rivers); it's the last opportunity to save their lives," said Edson Santos Rodrigues, a pediatric doctor working on medevac planes for the state of Amazonas.

Advertisement

Advertisement

"Sometimes we don't get there in time, because we cannot land at night on remote airfields that have no lights," he said as he returned to the city of Manaus with a 26-year-old man of the Tikuna tribe, who was breathing through an oxygen tank aboard the plane.

Manaus, the capital city of Amazonas, has some of the only intensive care units in the region.

READ: In Amazon city, indigenous chief felled by COVID-19 buried with dance and singing

READ: Amazon could be next coronavirus hot zone: Scientist

Advertisement

Advertisement

The Brazilian government's indigenous health service Sesai reported on Monday at least 23 indigenous people have died from COVID-19. The victims were in remote tribal territories, 11 of them in the upper reaches of the Amazon river bordering Colombia and Peru.

Brazil's main tribal umbrella organization APIB counts the coronavirus cases of indigenous people who have migrated to urban areas and who are not treated by Sesai. The group reported on Monday a rise in the death toll with 103 confirmed deaths, up from 18 on Apr 3.

Three-quarters of the 540 confirmed cases of coronavirus among 40 tribes reported by APIB are in the Amazon where the pandemic has hit Manaus so badly that it was the first Brazilian city to run out of ICU beds, while its main cemetery buries the dead in collective graves.

On Monday, a seriously ill 78-year-old patient on a ventilator died on the flight from São Gabriel da Cachoeira, the mostly indigenous town in the Amazon located on the Rio Negro near the border with Venezuela, said Daniel Siqueira, a medevac doctor.

Siqueira, the son of an evangelical missionary, spent hiRead More – Source