Amazon city scrambles to provide oxygen to COVID-19 patients


SAO PAULO (AP) – Hospital staff and relatives of COVID-19 patients have rushed to provide facilities with oxygen tanks that have just been flown in the largest city in the Amazon rainforest as doctors chose which patients would breathe amid the dwindling stocks and struggled to airlift some of them. States.

As heavy rains fell in Manaus on Thursday, Rafael Pereira carried a small tank containing five cubic meters of oxygen for his mother-in-law to Hospital 28 de Agosto. He didn’t want to be interviewed because of his stress, but he looked relieved when the tank – which he said would help him breathe for two more hours – was brought inside.

Health workers at Getulio Vargas University Hospital have brought empty bottles to his oxygen supplier in the hope that there will be some to be recovered. Usually the supplier collects the bottles and brings the newly filled ones.

Desperate patients in overcrowded hospitals waited for oxygen to arrive to save some, but others arrived too late. At least one of the cemeteries in Manaus, a city of 2.2 million people, had mourners lining up to enter and bury their dead. Brazilian artists, football clubs and politicians have used their platforms to call for help.

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said Thursday a second plane with medical supplies – including oxygen – would arrive on Friday, and four more later. The local government’s oxygen supplier, multinational White Martins, said in a statement that it was considering diverting some of its supply from neighboring Venezuela. It was not immediately clear whether this would be enough to resolve the spiraling crisis.

“Yes, there is a collapse of the health system in Manaus. The line for beds is increasing dramatically – we have 480 people waiting now, ”Pazuello said on a social media show. “We are starting to remove patients with less severe (conditions) to reduce the impact.”

Hospitals in Manaus admitted few new COVID-19 patients on Thursday, suggesting many will suffer from the disease at home and some could die.

The tension has prompted the Amazonas state government to say it will transport 235 patients who depend on oxygen but are not in intensive care units to five other states and the federal capital, Brasilia.

“I want to thank the governors who give us their hand in a human gesture,” Amazonas governor Wilson Lima said at a press conference Thursday.

“Everyone looks at us when there is a problem like the lungs of the Earth,” he said, alluding to a common description of the Amazon. “Now we are asking for help. Our people need this oxygen.

Governors and mayors across the country have offered to help amid a flood of social media videos in which distraught relatives of COVID-19 patients in Manaus begged people to buy them oxygen .

Federal prosecutors in the city, however, have asked a local judge to pressure President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration to step up support. Prosecutors said later in the day that the region’s main air force aircraft for carrying oxygen supplies “needed repairs, which halted the influx of emergency”.

The Air Force said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that it was deploying two planes to transport patients, starting Friday. The health ministry did not respond to a request for comment on transport plans.

The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia confirmed that it had received a request from the federal government to support the initiative, without providing details.

Local authorities recently called on the federal government to boost Manaus’ oxygen supply. The results of the 14 days of death of the city …

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