Brazilian coronavirus: Rio reopens as experts warn yet worst

A waiter serves a customer at a bar in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.

“My team and I are very excited to be back to work,” he told CNN. Said. “This will be different with all the measures we need to take, table distances, the number of people sitting together, but working again feels good.”

Assy said that when he ordered Rio de Janeiro to close all major jobs in March to stop the spread of Covid-19, he dismissed four of his 11 employees, and the remaining seven freeze or lower their wages, but this avoids bankruptcy.

“I would have to close for another month like this and completely,” he said. “I am afraid to stay home and work harder than coronavirus today.”

Like many cities in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, under increasing pressure from unemployment and the tank economy, imposes comforting restrictions despite warnings that the city has failed to control Covid-19 to date.

Starting on Thursday, restaurants, bars and gyms were allowed to reopen following new health guidelines that require wearing masks and social distances. On the first day, there were few customers on the seaside promenade, but it was unclear whether it was due to weather conditions or fear of coronavirus, which said it might not peak in Brazil until mid-August.

Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in late May (UFRJ) He calculated that the outbreak in Rio would peak at the following month, and suggested that social isolation measures be continued.

However, on 2 June, Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella announced the plan to gradually relax the restrictions, starting with the reopening of car dealerships and home decoration stores. Then came trade, shopping malls and some public spaces.

According to the Rio state health secretary, after a month Covid-19’s death rate increased to 70% and reached 6,550, and the total number of infections in the city increased to about 50% to 57,879. And while the number of deaths recorded in the second half of the month fell slightly, compared to 1,303, 1,372, the number of new cases was 16% higher at 13,675.

Overall, Brazil has the second highest case of coronavirus in the world, only the second from the USA. Over 60,000 deaths and 1.4 million as of Thursday confirmed cases The virus.

There is regret in another city

However, reopening plans remain unchanged. Experts warn that Rio can follow in the footsteps of other Brazilian cities that move so fast and have to close again.

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Belo Horizonte, one of the first Brazilian state capitals to apply quarantine in Minas Gerais, started to re-open its economy at the end of May. This week, however, ordered the closure of non-mandatory activities due to an increase in death and hospitalizations.

According to Roberto Medronho, an epidemiologist in the UFRJ and one of the creators of the “covimeter”, which calculates the transmission rate, the fact that the virus spread as restrictions in Rio was not a coincidence. On June 7, the transmission rate of the capital was 1.03. Three weeks later, the transmission rate was 1.46.

“This shows that the decision to expand reopening is based on economic and non-scientific criteria,” Medronho told CNN.

Covid-19, President Jair Bolsonaro struck the Brazilian economy hard, despite insulting the impact of the virus repeatedly, insisting that hunger and unemployment can kill more people than the pandemic. While the vast majority of Brazilians supported closing jobs that were not mandatory at first, Bolsonaro’s message has steadily increased.
According to figures released this week by the Brazilian statistics agency, about 7.8 million Brazilian jobs lost between March and May IBGE. It is the first time since the agency started tracking data that less than half of the working-age population really works. The exact figure was 49.5%.

Economists predict a historical recession due to Covid-19. While the Central Bank of Brazil estimates a 6.4% drop in GDP for this year, the International Monetary Fund is more pessimistic and sees the economy shrinking 9.1% in 2020.

Crivella from Rio said that his decisions were taken after talks with his scientific committee, which determined that gyms, bars and restaurants could reopen, because the number of deaths slowed and the percentage of occupied intensive care beds also decreased.

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At the beginning of June, 90% of the ICU deposits in Rio were occupied. This week the rate dropped to 69%. Experts say, however, that it should not be the only statistic used to make decisions.

“Governors and mayors opened field hospitals and bought ventilators and the numbers improved,” he said. Covid-19 Brasil groupIt brings together scientists from Brazilian universities.

“But there is a limit to this: the doctors are not as large as the bed and there is no way to increase this capacity indefinitely. As the basis for reopening, relying only on the intensive care bed profession is a trick used to calm the public.”

Alves said that plans to open football matches in the city next week will only worsen the delicate situation.

The city of Belo Horizonte also based its decision to re-open at the end of May on the ICU bed occupation.

“What we did as a country was to buy more beds. It was a mistake to think that this would solve. Now we had to close it again in Belo Horizonte because the cases have skyrocketed. I see this drama as a war and a war, you always change your strategy,” Kalil said in the interview. .

At the end of May, the number of hospital beds in Belo Horizonte has quadrupled since the outbreak began, and Kalil allowed retail stores and beauty salons to open.

Unlike Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte did not allow reopening of shopping malls, churches and parks, but nevertheless, cases and death costs increased from 495 to 4,942 within a month, from 49 to 106. 92% intensive care beds were occupied earlier this week.

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Kalil put the social isolation measures back on June 26. He said they would continue for at least two more weeks.

“You cannot say that everything is fine when the media reports that the country’s death rate has exceeded 60,000. We are not a flat ear at Belo Horizonte. It will depend on science and numbers to turn it on or off.” Said.

Scientists in the Covid-19 Brasil group estimate that cities benefiting from social distance reduction measures may see a 150% increase in the number of registered Covid-19 cases over the next two weeks.

“Governors and mayors are sending their population to the slaughterhouse with the privilege of economic recovery,” Domingos Alves said. Said.

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