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Brazilian state of Amazonas runs out of oxygen due to surge in COVID | News on the coronavirus pandemic

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Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the hospital system in the city of Manaus was collapsing.

The Brazilian state of Amazonas is running out of oxygen amid a further rise in deaths from COVID-19, its government said on Thursday, with media reporting people on ventilators dying of suffocation in hospitals.

The state has made a dramatic appeal to the United States to send a military transport plane to the capital Manaus with oxygen cylinders.

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the city’s hospital system was collapsing due to a second wave of COVID-19 and there was a lack of oxygen. He said the city’s hospitals were running low on medical staff as deaths rose again.

“They took my father off oxygen,” Raïssa Floriano said outside Hospital 28 de Agosto in Manaus, where people protested that relatives with severe cases of COVID-19 were unhooked from ventilators for lack of oxygen.

Weeping, Floriano said she was looking for an oxygen cylinder to save her father Alfonso, 73.

Brazil is home to the second deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the world after the United States. The country has reported more than 207,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Manaus was one of the first Brazilian cities to be hit with a spiraling death toll and workload since the first wave of the pandemic last year.

A health worker reacts at Getulio Vargas Hospital, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Manaus, Brazil on January 14, 2021 [Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

With emergency services being pushed to breaking point, Governor Nelson Lima announced a statewide curfew to stop the spread of the coronavirus during the devastating second wave.

Health officials said oxygen supplies were depleted in some hospitals and intensive care units were so full that many patients were being airlifted to other states.

Amazonas Health Secretary Marcellus Campelo said the state needs nearly three times as much oxygen as it can produce locally and has called for supplies from other states.

Public health experts have given dramatic accounts of people dying from COVID-19 in intensive care units without oxygen.

“The oxygen ran out and hospitals turned into suffocation chambers,” Fiocruz-Amazonia researcher Jesem Orellana told the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. “Patients who manage to survive could suffer permanent brain damage,” he said.

Meanwhile, a new variant of the virus was detected in Japan on Sunday in four people from Amazonas, and the UK has banned new arrivals from Brazil over fears of the new variant.

Researchers said the new variant could contribute to the sharp increase in cases in Amazonas state, although they are conducting more studies to determine if it is more contagious than previous versions of the coronavirus.

The neighboring state of Para announced Thursday that it was banning travel boats down the Amazonas River, citing an increase in cases and identification of the new variant.

The UK has said it will ban travelers from Brazil, several other South American countries and Portugal. The new variant has 12 mutations, including one also found in highly infectious variants recently discovered in the UK and South Africa that have started circulating around the world.

Researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Amazonia Foundation said the new variant found in Japan likely appeared in northern Brazil between December and January.



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