Startling images of a public cemetery in Brazil show just how hard the coronavirus pandemic has hit Latin America’s most populous country.
The country’s coronavirus death toll has surpassed 80,000 - now ranking as the second highest in the world behind the US.
On June 20, Brazil had one million confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has doubled to two million.
In late May, three months after Brazil’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus, Brazil reported an average of 1000 deaths a day. On July 20, 718 deaths were reported.
Aerial photos of Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus paint a grim picture of the toll the deadly pandemic has had on the country.
To cope with the number of coffins, dozens of trenches were dug for burials, leaving grieving families angry about the mass graves.
However, it has long been suggested Brazil’s death toll is much higher than what official numbers show as some people with coronavirus symptoms died in their own homes and the deaths have not been contributed to the overall number.
Experts have blamed President Jair Bolsonaro’s denial of the virus’ devastating potential.
Initially he called it a “little flu” and fired health ministers who supported governors enforcing stay-at-home directives.
Bolsonaro caught the “little flu” and tested positive again just a few days ago. He has continued to flout social distancing measures while infectious, going out and carrying on as per usual.
Former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was fired by Bolsonaro amid the pandemic, says people have now become “callous” towards the death toll.
“When you say, ‘Yesterday there were 1300 deaths,’ people say, ‘OK, then it didn’t go up. It was 1300 people the day before, too,’” he told the Associated Press.
Even Bolsonaro has shown little regard for the dead.
“I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life,” he said, when the death toll was just hovering over 5000.
Real coronavirus infections could be 10 million
As Brazil has climbed the list of countries with the most coronavirus infections, many experts have claimed the number would actually be much higher if the testing rates weren’t so low.
Professors from several academic institutions in Brazil have created a model based on the confirmed deaths, which estimates Brazil’s actual number of infections is 10 million.
“The virus would have been difficult to stop anyway. But this milestone of 2 million cases, which is very underestimated, shows this could have been different,” said Dr. Adriano Massuda, a health care administration specialist and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Sao Paulo university told AP.
“There’s no national strategy for testing, no measures from the top, ... too little effort to improve basic care so we find serious cases before they become too serious, no tracking.”
Experts have long feared many people are dying from the virus in their own homes.
Eliete das Graças told the Associated Press she believed her father, Edgar Silva, 83, died of Alzheimer’s disease.
The doctor signed off on his death certificate without seeing the body, “cardiorespiratory arrest” was the determined cause of death.
Mr Silva was never tested for coronavirus, though he spent two feverish days gasping for breath and his death did not count as one of the pandemic’s victims.
Although it was never confirmed Mr Silva had the coronavirus, after his death he was treated as if he did.
Ms Das Graças said she hoped he would get. a proper send off, instead was placed in a a sealed coffin, a precaution no matter the cause of death and sent to the public cemetery, likely Nossa Senhora Aparecida, in a refrigerated container to await burial.
“A person can’t even die with dignity,” she said back in May.
At one of the capital’s cemeteries on Wednesday, Michelle Caverni buried her 88-year-old aunt, who died of COVID-19 and also suffered from pulmonary emphysema.
The same day a friend of Caverni’s buried her 57-year-old mother. She also died of COVID-19.
“Until it knocks at your door, people are indifferent,” said Caverni, 40, a restaurant cook.
“Yesterday there were 1300 deaths from COVID-19. Is that supposed to be few? People are saying that’s just the media. I hear that every day at work.”
With Associated Press
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