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Fri May 8, 2020, 06:34 PM

As deaths mount in Brazil's Amazon, official COVID-19 toll under scrutiny

Source: Reuters

WORLD NEWS MAY 8, 2020 / 7:04 AM / UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO

As deaths mount in Brazil's Amazon, official COVID-19 toll under scrutiny

Jake Spring, Eduardo Siműes, Bruno Kelly
7 MIN READ

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO/MANAUS, Brazil (Reuters) - The death toll from COVID-19 in the worst hit part of Brazilís remote Amazon region may be three times the official count, according to data from public notaries reviewed by Reuters, as the spread of the disease overwhelms the public health system.

Officials in Manaus, state capital of Amazonas, said they were out of hospital beds and struggling to keep pace with the burials needed. The largest of nine states in Brazilís Amazon rainforest, Amazonas has registered nearly 19.4 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to 4.4 for all of Brazil, according to a Reuters calculation based on the death toll released by the federal Health Ministry on Thursday.

The coronavirus killed 422 people in Amazonas in April, according to the ministry. Yet death registry data from public notaries indicates the ministryís statistics may far underestimate the actual toll. Officials have previously acknowledged in media briefings that the toll is likely higher as cases go undetected because of a lack of testing, without saying by how much.

Data from the national association of public notaries as of Thursday showed 385 people died of COVID-19 in Amazonas in April. However, the notaries also registered 999 other deaths - attributed to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and other respiratory failures, which some officials in the state believe should be counted as COVID-19 deaths for a total of 1,384. The 999 deaths are four times the 249 fatalities attributed to those other diseases in April 2019.

ďIn Brazil, there is a harmful phenomenon of under reporting. Itís absurd to have deaths without a cause,Ē Manaus Mayor Virgilio Neto told Reuters by phone.

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Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-brazil-amazon/as-deaths-mount-in-brazils-amazon-official-covid-19-toll-under-scrutiny-idUSKBN22K1DU

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