By Vatican News staff writer
“In these days my prayers go to all those who are suffering because of the pandemic, especially to those in Manaus in northern Brazil,” Pope Francis said during the General Audience.
In greetings to the Portuguese-speaking faithful after the Wednesday General Audience catechesis, the Pope expressed his concern for the situation in the Amazon city and invoked the Lord to sustain the people there in this difficult time.
“I send you my heartfelt blessings!” he said.
Fears for vulnerable indigenous tribes
With hospitals overflowing and oxygen supplies running low, the authorities and the population of the city of Manaus in Brazil’s Amazon fear a second wave of Covid-19 deaths could prove even more devastating.
The head of the Coordination of Indigenous Peoples in Manaus and Surroundings (Copime) warned that for the roughly 30,000 indigenous people who live in Manaus and rely on public healthcare, the situation is especially alarming.
Brazil's Air Force flew oxygen cylinders into the rainforest city last week as desperate relatives reportedly protested outside hospitals, saying patients had been taken off ventilators as oxygen supplies ran out.
Some of the sick were airlifted to other states as locals scrambled to buy oxygen on the black market to help their loved ones, according to media reports, but a Copime spokesman said “"If we have to buy oxygen for our elders to survive, they will die. We have no income."
Covid-19 situation in Brazil
In a statement the Amazonas government said it gave its first Covid-19 vaccine this week to an indigenous nurse in Parque das Tribos, and noted that frontline health workers and indigenous people in reservations would be the priority for vaccinations.
Brazil has registered 210,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the second-highest toll after the United States.
According to APIB, the indigenous umbrella organization, the dead include 926 indigenous people.