Covid-19 hits Brazil's native Xavante, with 13 deaths in 5 days

Covid-19 hits Brazil’s native Xavante, with 13 deaths in 5 days

At least 13 Xavante people have died in the past five days and another 50 cases have been confirmed during the same period, according to the latest figures released by the Special Health Service of the Autonomous Region (SESAI).

A total of 16 Covid-19 deaths have now been recorded in the territory of Xavante, located in a corner of the state of Mato Grosso in the Amazon, making it the second most hit native land in Brazil, according to SESAI. Indigenous communities in Alto Solimoes have recorded 25 deaths linked to the pandemic reported by the agency.
Last week, Xavante Crisanto leader Rudzo Tseremeywá released a video of himself in a hospital bed on social media. He and his parents became infected in June. In the video, he warned Xavante’s people about the severity of the disease and asked them to seek treatment immediately if they began to show symptoms.

Initially, the community did not believe the virus was going to enter the Xavante area, Lucio Lucio Terowa’a, secretary of the Federation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Mato Grosso, told CNN. Local authorities have not drawn up an emergency plan to fight the virus or raise awareness about protection measures, he added. “That’s why we have this rapid infection,” Terowa’a said.

Brazil National Indian Foundation, FUNAI, a government agency overseeing indigenous affairs, set up travel barriers in all nine areas of Xavante earlier this year. “But it’s too late, the disease has already entered,” said Terowa’a, who has lost six people near his family to Covid-19.

About 22,000 natives live in areas of Xavante, surrounded by soybean farms and cattle farms. As of last Tuesday, 126 Xavante people had been infected with Covid-19 and another 46 were suspected, according to SESAI.

In Barra dos Garças, a municipality that houses indigenous areas of Sao Marcos where Terowa’a and his family live, two-thirds of all nurses last week were Xavante people. Terowa’a is worried the hospital will collapse in the coming weeks. “If (the virus) spreads further, it will not be able to cure everyone,” he said.

According to SESAI, as of June 30, 156 Brazilian natives have died and 6,488 have been infected with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to a count by the Union of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), which includes cases and deaths of indigenous people living in urban areas (while SESAI includes only those living in traditional villages), 380 indigenous people have died and 9,414 were infected with Covid-19 by June 28.
Overall, the incidence of coronavirus has increased in Brazil. As of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins global tracker, Brazil had recorded more than 1.4 million cases with the death toll closing at 60,000.

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