A shortage of oxygen tanks in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas brought the health system to the brink of collapse this week as hospitals turned away sick people and officials scrambled to move seriously ill coronavirus patients to other states.
State governor Wilson Lima said the Amazon, which struggled with a high number of cases and deaths in May, was hit by a more serious second wave.
“We are in a state of war,” he said on Thursday. “We have a lot of difficulties getting supplies. Our main difficulty was getting oxygen. “
Oxygen consumption has increased due to the rapid increase in the number of patients being hospitalized. Almost 220,000 people have been infected and 5,879 have died from the virus in the state. With more than 8.6 million cases and 206,000 deaths, Brazil had one of the worst outbreaks in the world.
Dramatic reports from patient and health care professionals posted on social media and local press coverage on Thursday provided insight into the fear of Covid-19 patient relatives and overwhelmed health care workers.
Jesem Orellana, a researcher at Fiocruz-Amazônia Medical Research Institute, told Folha de São Paulo that he had received annoying videos and audio recordings from his colleagues.
“It gives the impression that an entire ward of patients has died of a lack of oxygen,” he said.
Other Brazilians like Thalita Rocha, a psychologist who worked with her mother-in-law in the Dr. Jose Lins was in Manaus, posted on social media asking for oxygen donations. “Anyone who has oxygen available brings them here to the polyclinic. Lots of people are dying, ”she said. “We are in an unfortunate situation.”
The crisis arose after oxygen demand rose in March above the previous year’s high when daily consumption averaged 30,000 cubic meters. The demand currently exceeds 70,000 cubic meters.
“This is two and a half times higher than last year,” said Marcellus Campêlo, the Amazon’s health minister. “We created an emergency plan that takes into account the increase in cases, but the high demand surprised us.”
Over the weekend, the Brazilian armed forces began shipping oxygen bottles to Manaus from companies based in São Paulo and Fortaleza to help ease the crisis, but officials are trying to source more.
Mr Lima imposed a curfew in the city from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday