Venezuela sends oxygen tanks to Brazil amid COVID-19 surge

Jair Bolsonaro’s regime has been pursuing a policy of aggression towards Venezuela since he took office in 2019.

The sudden surge in numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state has caused a collapse in the public health system with a lack of ICU beds and oxygen. Jair Bolsonaro’s government now admits it knew about the impending oxygen shortage eight days before several hospitals collapsed on January 14.

At the request of President Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan government is sending tanks of oxygen to the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The information was confirmed by federal deputy for Amazonas, José Ricardo of the Workers’ Party (PT), on social media. State Governor Wilson Lima also thanked the Venezuelan government on social media.

The Brazilian foreign ministry, meanwhile, requested that the United States government help transport oxygen tanks.

According to Lima, the consumption of oxygen increased about 130% from April 2020, the first peak of the disease, to January 13.

Family members of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 and Healthcare professionals in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, said the situation has rapidly deteriorated in the last several hours due to the lack of oxygen and ICU beds.

President of the Doctors trade union of the Amazonas Mário Vianna said on social media that patients are staying alive “due to the efforts of medical professionals, nurses and technicians”. Some have even reported that they are attempting to carry out treatment from their homes.

“This is a terrible situation, which we feared would happen and denounced. At this moment, I appeal to all of the authorities so that they can unite so that we can urgently find a solution. Transporting oxygen from other states, as if it were war, is a necessity to save lives,” he said.

According to National Council of Health Secretaries (CONASS), on the night of January 14, 5920 deaths were registered and 223,360 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the state. In the week of January 3-9, 344 deaths were confirmed. In the previous week to January 2, 152 deaths were confirmed.

The rise can also be noted in the number of new cases of the disease. From January 3-9, 11,129 new infections were confirmed, while in the previous week to January 2, 5930 new infections, less than half, were registered.

“Latin American solidarity above all else”

Venezuelans’ gesture of solidarity to the struggling Brazilian state was applauded by many within Brazil and across the region. Jair Bolsonaro’s administration has been pursuing a policy of aggression towards the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since he took office in 2019 and has sabotaged many of the historic links of economic and political cooperation that existed between the two countries.

However, the people and government of Venezuelan have insisted on overcoming the central government’s attitude in order to support the people of Brazil. The country which shares a border with Venezuela has been one of the most hard hit by COVID-19. Its numbers of confirmed infections and deaths are only surpassed by the US, with over 8,324,294 confirmed cases and 207,095 deaths as at January 15.

When announcing the decision to send oxygen tanks to Amazonas, Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza wrote on twitter, “By instruction of President Nicolás Maduro, we spoke with the governor of the Amazonas state of Brazil, Wilson Lima to immediately offer all the necessary oxygen to attend the public health crisis in Manaus. Latin American solidarity above all!”

Meanwhile, Venezuela has had one of the most comprehensive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, being one of the first countries to decree quarantine and expanding existing public health infrastructure to increase capacity to treat and prevent. As a result, the country has been able to control the spread and care for those who have become infected. As of January 14, there were 118,415 confirmed cases and 1090 deaths.

[Abridged from People’s Dispatch.]

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