Deaths jump in Brazil's indigenous tribes as virus spreads

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on June 5, 2020 - Duration: 01:49s

Deaths jump in Brazil's indigenous tribes as virus spreads

Coronavirus is spreading fast through Brazil's indigenous populations, with deaths caused by the disease increasing more than five-fold in the past month, according to data collected by a national association of first peoples.

Lucy Fielder reports.

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Deaths jump in Brazil's indigenous tribes as virus spreads

Coronavirus is spreading fast through Brazil's indigenous peoples, with deaths rising five-fold in the past month.

It was hoped remote locations would protect the tribes, but the virus is rampaging through indigenous communities with precarious and basic healthcare.... According to a national association of first peoples.

Brazil as a whole now has the world's second-largest outbreak of COVID-19.

These women are waiting outside a hospital in Manaus, the capital of the rainforest state of Amazonas.

It has opened the first special COVID-19 wing for indigenous, but they're upset shamans aren't allowed to visit sufferers or take them traditional medicines.

[Indigenous Brazilian, Moy Satere Mawe, says:] "Yes, we're differentiated, even if the system doesn't want it, we're a differentiated people.

We speak a traditional language, we have our medicinal plants, we have our shaman.

So, we want respect, too." Manaus is the only place in the vast state of Amazonas that has hospitals with ventilators.

Those are already full to capacity.

Doctors fear the contagion could be a death sentence for vulnerable and far-flung communities.

But a chronic lack of testing makes the scale of the spread hard to gauge.

Doctor Eldo Gomes: "The peak of the disease has passed in Manaus, but the disease is spreading into the interior.

And, now it's going to hit the municipalities, the river communities, and the indigenous." For many indigenous, this harks back to the dark days of colonialism.

When Europeans decimated local tribes with small pox, then rubber tappers, gold miners and settlers brought malaria, measles and flu.

Now, they fear, it's COVID-19.

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