First class patients: coronavirus in Brazil

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FIRST CLASS PATIENTS: CORONAVIRUS IN BRAZIL In Brazil, the rich gave coronavirus to the poor. Now they are now buying intensive care flights for themselves.


Brazil’s Ministry of Health said on 6 May that Brazil had 8,536 deaths from Covid-19. It was probably a lot more. But most victims were poor people from big cities. On the same day, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) wrote that the richest 1 per cent of the population earned 33 times more than the poorest 50 per cent in 2019.

Also, on the same day, the mayor of Belém, capital of Pará state, said that the jobs of domestic workers were ‘essential’ during the pandemic. That means the employers could call them back to work before the end of quarantine.

Also on that day, Brazilians heard that many more rich patients were demanding flights with intensive care facilities (ICU). The rich wanted to leave Belém, with a weak local health system, and fly to São Paulo and Brasília.

In the North of Brazil – where Belém is – the average monthly income of the poorest half of the population is $107. To pay for a flying ICU from Belém to Brasília costs over $6,794. This is 63 months’ wages of the poorest half of the population.

In 2016, the public health system was already bad. Unions said that Congress should spend more on public health. Some people said they should tax rich people to get money for public health, but the rich laughed at this idea. Now the rich fly to other cities because the health system is so bad, and poor people die.

And how did the poor get the virus? The first person to die of Covid-19 in Rio de Janeiro was a domestic worker who travelled 120 kilometres a week to the house where she worked in rich Leblon. Her employer had been to Italy and was waiting for the result of a coronavirus test – it was positive. The employer did not tell her that she thought she had Covid-19.

When inequality is so deep, it is difficult for people to see that others are equal to them. People think the government exists to serve the rich and control the poor.

Many people say that President Jair Bolsonaro is one of the world’s worst leaders at fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. He calls it a ‘little flu’ and ‘a fantasy’. He said he does not care about the thousands of dead, and tells everyone to ignore social distancing, for the benefit of the economy.

The terrible thing is that some people can go to other cities for good healthcare at the same time that the poorest are waiting to die at home because there are not enough beds in public hospitals; and the poor have to sacrifice their health by going to work.

When the number of dead reached 10,000 on 9 May, the President said he was going to have a barbecue with guests. People said he was insensitive, so he went for a jet ski ride.

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