A Teen From An Amazonian Tribe Has Died— Here’s Why The News Is Troubling Health Officials Tackling Covid-19
Health experts have been ringing the alarm about the devastating effects coronavirus will have on Indigenous communities. Brazil, which is home to 850,000 Indigenous people, is one country anthropologists are keeping a close eye on. After all, these communities are particularly vulnerable to external diseases and often times their lifestyle in tribal villages rule out recommended health measures like social-distancing.
According to reports, the first death amongst an indigneous group in Brazil devastated the community this week.
In a report made by Aljazeera, a Yanomami teen died after testing positive for coronavirus. Health officials closely observing this community say the death raises fears that the new “pandemic will spread among the largest Indigenous tribe in northern Brazil.”
Alvanei Xirixan was 15-years-old and died on Thursday night in intensive care in the main hospital of Boa Vista, according to the local Indigenous health service Dsei.
According to Aljazeera, Xirixan was from the village of Rehebe on the Uraricoera river and had been in the hospital for a week before their death. The river is said to be an access route for gold rush miners who have for years invaded the land currently occupied by 26,000 Yanomami. During the early years of colonization of the area, illegal gold miners brought measles and other fatal diseases to the region, exposing the tribe.
Villagers in the area with coronavirus symptoms are being isolated and test kits have been rushed to the reservation.
Xirixan was not the first Indigenous person to die of coronavirus. They ar third to be killed by the pandemic which is currently pillaging its way across Brazil. “Two previous deaths were of Indigenous people who were living in urban areas, including an 87-year-old woman in Para state and man in Manaus,” reported Aljazeera.
Earlier this week on Wednesday, Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta announced the first case of coronavirus infection and said the government plans to build a field hospital for vulnerable tribes.
“We are extremely concerned about the Indigenous communities,” he said.