In the Brazilian state of Amazonas, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, medical care for riverine communities comes through the waters of the Negro River, the same areas where the coronavirus begins to enter the jungle.
Medical teams navigate the Amazon rivers and cross thick vegetation to visit rural communities in the interior, carry out tests and guide them on prevention measures in the fight against COVID-19, which is advancing more strongly in the interior of the country. , one of the most punished in the world.
Located on the left bank of the Negro River, the largest of all tributaries of the Amazon River, and just over an hour from the urban area, the community of Bela Vista do Jaraqui has been affected by the arrival of the coronavirus.
More than two months ago, this centennial indigenous Jaraqui town stopped receiving visitors and prohibited the entry of vessels that do not represent essential services or move products to supply the community or stop the spread of the virus.
MEDICAL CARE THROUGH THE AMAZON RIVERS
But the community received in these days the visit of the officials and doctors of the Basic Health Unit of the municipal government of the capital of the state of Amazonas, Manaus, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Dressed in personal protective equipment, the doctors from the river unit carried out rapid tests on the more than 300 inhabitants of the town and confirmed some COVID-19 infections.
“We received the information that they were with suspected cases” of coronavirus, so “we are doing exams” to “verify the seriousness of the situation in the community,” the manager of the river unit, Assis Calvacante da Silva, told Efe .
Protected with masks and sitting on wooden benches, plastic chairs or bricks, dozens of neighbors waited for their patients to be attended by health professionals and confirm a possible spread of coronavirus.
Among them was Leonildo Pinheiro Lima, 66, who has lived almost half his life in the Jaraqui community. The COVID-19 test was done and it was negative, while his wife, Maria Francisca, took advantage of the medical visit to do other tests and receive medication.
In addition to rapid tests for coronaviruses, the Manaus River Unit also conducts tests for syphilis, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and pregnancy, among other services.
The expectation is to attend until next June 4 at least 4,000 people out of a total of 40 riverside communities, popularly known in Brazil as the “forest peoples”.
In recent weeks, the virus has advanced into the territories of the interior of the Amazon state, which, according to the latest balance of the country’s health authorities, has already accounted for nearly 39,000 cases and around 2,000 fatalities of COVID-19.
The arrival of the pathogen to the interior caused the alarms to rise even more in this immense state, whose surface is equivalent three times to that of Spain, and which was already worrying the country’s authorities for its lack of health provision, since only its capital, Manaus, It has intensive care beds.
Rivers have also contributed to the spread of the virus in the interior of the state, as it is the main means of communication for the populations that live in the Amazon basin, which is shared by eight countries in South America.
Brazil registers 27,878 deaths from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, surpassing Spain in the total number of deaths, and the contagions now total 465,166, making it the second country in the world with the most cases.
Raphael Alves and Carla Samon