Amazonas state health facilities are being pushed to their limits due to an increase in COVID-19 infections.
Brazilian state of Amazonas received more emergency oxygen supplies after authorities called for help to treat COVID-19 patients amid a devastating wave of infections and hospitalizations .
The Brazilian Air Force said on Saturday a second flight landed in Manaus, the state capital, with eight tanks of liquid oxygen, following emergency delivery earlier five tanks, and the navy said in a statement it would send 40 respirators.
The military also said it evacuated 12 patients from hospitals in Manaus to the northern city of Sao Luis overnight.
Brazilian Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello said earlier this week that the Manaus hospital system was collapsing due to COVID-19, as facilities were understaffed and quickly lacked oxygen.
Brazil has recorded more than 8.3 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, the third highest number in the world. It has also reported more than 208,200 deaths since the start of the pandemic – second only to the United States.
Venezuela also said on Saturday it had sent the first batch of oxygen supplies to Amazonas, which is expected to arrive in Manaus on Sunday.
The Venezuelan government “will provide oxygen for the duration of the emergency in the state of Amazonas,” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said.
Mass graves were dug in Manaus during the first wave of the pandemic last year, and the lingering crisis has sparked anger against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who downplayed the severity of the novel coronavirus and the need public health measures.
On Friday, residents of neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia banged pots on their windows in anger at Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.
On the same day, Bolsonaro said the government had already done what it could in Manaus. “The problem is terrible there. Now we have done our part, ”he said.
The director of health emergencies of the World Health Organization, Mike Ryan, warned on Friday that “the situation in the Amazon and in particular in Manaus has deteriorated considerably over the past two weeks”.
Ryan said other parts of Brazil, as well as Central and South America, were also struggling to respond to the second wave of the pandemic. Still, he said, hospitalizations have risen steadily in Amazonas state since mid-December and were of particular concern.
“It is clear that if this continues we are going to see a wave that is bigger than what was a catastrophic wave in April and May in the Amazon and in particular in Manaus, which is a tragedy in itself,” Ryan Told journalists.
“The current occupancy rate of the ICU in Manaus is 100% over the past two weeks. It is a health care system under extreme pressure. “
He said in addition to oxygen shortages, medical staff lack gloves and basic personal protective equipment (PPE). Transporting oxygen from other states to Manaus is also a complicated and difficult process, Ryan added.