Things That Matter

Brazil’s Remote Indigenous Communities Are At Risk Of Covid-19 After Healthcare Workers Test Positive

The Coronavirus pandemic has been ravaging Brazilian cities for months. In fact, Brazil is number two in the world when it comes to both deaths and infections. Cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have struggled to carry on as much of the economy and the health care system has collapsed. Many have attributed these dire conditions as consequences of President Bolsonaro’s failed policies.

Now, Brazil’s remote Indigenous communities are facing a similar crisis – although one that could be even worse thanks to a severe lack of access to medical care. A team of medical workers sent to protect the country’s native populations has actually done the opposite – as more than a thousands workers test positive for the virus and have spread it among remote tribes.

For months, as the Coronavirus tore through Brazil, Indigenous tribes across the vast country have tried to protect themselves by strictly limiting access to their villages. Some have setup armed roadblocks and others have hunkered down in isolated camps.

But it appears that all of that may have been in vain. According to interviews and federal data obtained by The New York Times, the health workers charged by the federal government with protecting the country’s Indigenous populations may be responsible for spreading the disease in several Indigenous communities. More than 1,000 workers with the federal Indigenous health service, known as Sesai, have tested positive for Coronavirus as of early July.

As news of the infections spread across the villages, communities became alarmed. “Many people grabbed some clothes, a hammock and ran into the forest to hide,” said Thoda Kanamari, a leader of the union of Indigenous peoples in the vast territory, home to groups with little contact with the outside world. “But it was too late, everyone was already infected.”

Health workers say they have been plagued by insufficient testing and protective gear. Working without protective equipment or access to enough tests, these workers may have inadvertently endangered the very communities they were trying to help.

Now, news of the region’s first deaths linked to the virus have started to emerge and there’s fear it will get much worse.

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The remote villages that dot the Amazon region have also started to report their very first deaths linked to Coronavirus. Despite raging out of control in Brazil’s cities, remote Indigenous villages have faired quite well. That’s all beginning to change.

The Amazon region, which Brazil’s government says is home to greatest concentration of isolated Indigenous groups in the world, is now seeing an outbreak of Covid-19 – one that many fear will be hard to stop. Experts fear the new coronavirus could spread rapidly among people with less resistance even to already common diseases and limited access to health care, potentially wiping out some smaller groups.

So far, more than 15,500 Indigenous Brazilians have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, including at least 10,889 living in protected territories, according to Instituto Socioambiental, an Indigenous rights organization. At least 523 have died.

The alarming news comes as Brazil continues to struggle in its response to the pandemic.

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With nearly 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 80,000 deaths, as of July 22, Brazil’s Covid-19 catastrophe is the world’s second worst, after the United States.

And now an illness that has ravaged major cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo is at risk of spreading unchecked in some of the county’s most vulnerable communities. Health care workers, Indigenous leaders and experts blame major shortcomings that have turned Brazil into a global epicenter of the pandemic.

Robson Santos da Silva, the Army colonel at the head of Sesai, defended the agency’s response during the pandemic, and brushed off criticism as “a lot of disinformation, a lot of politics.”

Complicating the outbreak in Brazil’s remote villages (and even in the large cities) is that tests have been in short supply and often unreliable, which means some doctors and nurses with asymptomatic or undiagnosed cases have traveled to vulnerable communities and worked in them for days.

Criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, within Indigenous territories and beyond, is mounting.

Brazil has largely struggled to contain the pandemic thanks to the policies of its populist right-wing president who has denounced the pandemic as nothing more than a “little flu.” Within a couple of months of the initial outbreak, Bolsonaro lost two health ministers – who were physicians – and replaced them with an Army general who has no experience in health care.

And the backlash to Bolsonaro’s failed policies seems to be growing. Early this month, a judge on Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the government to redouble efforts to shield Indigenous people from the virus by coming up with a comprehensive plan within 30 days and setting up a “situation room” staffed by officials and Indigenous representatives.

More recently, another Supreme Court judge generated consternation in the Bolsonaro administration by warning that the armed forces could be held responsible for a “genocide” over their handling of the pandemic in Indigenous communities.

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More Than 1,200 Women And Girls Have Gone Missing In Peru During The Pandemic And Officials Think They Know Why

Things That Matter

More Than 1,200 Women And Girls Have Gone Missing In Peru During The Pandemic And Officials Think They Know Why

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Apart from combating the Coronavirus, Peru has suffered a heartbreaking increase in the number of missing women and girls. Just as hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets to demand an end to gender-based violence, the Coronavirus hit and those same marches have had to be put on hold.

Now, as millions of women are forced to stay at home under strict lockdown orders, they’re spending more time with potentially abusive partners or family members. Many experts believe this combination of circumstances is leading to an increase in domestic violence as hundreds of women in Peru have been reported missing since the start of the pandemic.

Hundreds of women and girls have gone missing since the start of the lockdown.

In Peru, hundreds of women and girls have gone missing and many are feared dead since lockdown orders were put into place to help contain the spread of Covid-19. According to authorities (including Peru’s women’s ministry), at least 1,2000 women and girls have been reported missing since the start of the pandemic – a much higher figure than during non-Coronavirus months.

“The figures are really quite alarming,” Isabel Ortiz, a top women’s rights official, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday. “We know the numbers of women and girls who have disappeared, but we don’t have detailed information about how many have been found,” she said. “We don’t have proper and up-to-date records.”

Ortiz is pushing the government to start keeping records so that authorities can track those who go missing – whether they are found alive or dead and whether they are victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence or femicide.

The women’s ministry said the government was working to eradicate violence against women and had increased funding this year for gender-based violence prevention programs.

Like many Latin American countries, Peru has long suffered from reports of domestic violence.

Credit: Cecile Lafranco / Getty Images

The Andean nation home to 33 million people has long had a domestic violence problem, but the home confinement measures because of the pandemic has made the situation worse, said Eliana Revollar, who leads the women’s rights office of the National Ombudsman’s office, an independent body that monitors Peru’s human rights.

Before COVID-19, five women were reported missing in Peru every single day, but since the lockdown, that number has surged to eight a day. Countries worldwide have reported increases in domestic violence under coronavirus lockdowns, prompting the United Nations to call for urgent government action.

According to the UN, Latin America has the world’s highest rates of femicide, defined as the gender-motivated killing of women. Almost 20 million women and girls a year are estimated to endure sexual and physical violence in the region.

Latin America and the Caribbean are known for high rates of femicide and violence against women, driven by a macho culture and social norms that dictate women’s roles, Ortiz said. She added, “Violence against women exists because of the many patriarchal patterns that exist in our society.”

“There are many stereotypes about the role of women that set how their behaviour should be, and when these are not adhered to, violence is used against women,” she said.

Before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of women throughout Latin America, including Peru, were staging mass street demonstrations demanding that their governments should act against gender-based violence.

Meanwhile, the country is also struggling to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Cecile Lafranco / Getty Images

Despite implementing one of the world’s longest running stay-at-home orders, Peru has become one of the hardest hit countries. As of August 11, Peru has confirmed more than 483,000 cases of Coronavirus and 21,276 people have died.

Hospitals are struggling to cope with the rising number of patients and healthcare workers have protested against a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

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There’s A ‘Haunted Drive-Thru’ Experience Coming To Save Halloween And It Looks Terrifying

Entertainment

There’s A ‘Haunted Drive-Thru’ Experience Coming To Save Halloween And It Looks Terrifying

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I don’t care if it’s barely August. It’s never too soon to start talking about Halloween.

The year 2020 has already taken so much from us, I won’t let it take Halloween too. And thanks to come very creative, socially-distanced supporting Halloween fans, it looks like we won’t have to say goodbye to the best holiday of the year after all.

Orlando is getting a drive-thru haunted experience and I really want to go.

If you were worried that COVID-19 would spell the end of haunted attractions in 2020, you’d best buckle up. The brave and the squeamish alike are invited to travel The Haunted Road this fall, a drive-thru Halloween experience in Central Florida that offers a socially distant alternative to the traditional haunted house.

The Haunted Road promises a fully immersive horror experience replete with monsters and gore galore — which should ring like music to your ears if going to haunts is your Halloween tradition of choice. The difference here is that you’ll experience the world of nightmarish scenery and gruesome creatures entirely from the comfort of your vehicle. So, kind of like a haunted hayride, but Coronavirus safe.

At the heart of the experience is an original take on the story of Rapunzel. On The Haunted Road, Rapunzel “journeys into a world of disarray, faces bloodcurdling creatures — and hundreds of shocking scares.” There will also be a more family-friendly daytime version of the event on weekdays.

OK, a huge thank you to whomever thought up this genius idea.

The idea for The Haunted Road was borne from the idea of creating an original haunted attraction that adheres to safe social distancing measures.

Most haunted attractions place visitors into smaller spaces and encourage performers to get up close and personal to secure the scare. But with the coronavirus pandemic raging on, that in-your-face approach is largely unfeasible and could lead most haunts to remain closed for the 2020 season. And that’s where The Haunted Road comes riding in like a headless horseman poised to save Halloween.

“With the arts and entertainment industry at a standstill, and an increasing need to find new, safe outdoor entertainment, we knew it was the perfect time to develop a unique Halloween experience so everyone can enjoy a dose of horror this upcoming Halloween season, from the comfort of their car,” said Jessica Mariko, executive producer and creative principal, The Haunted Road.

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