(Added Bolsonaro vaccine comment in paragraph 10)
Eduardo Simões and Amanda Perobelli
São Paulo, April 1 (Reuters)-Brazil’s largest city on Thursday speeds up the cleaning of old graves, making room for the city of São Paulo’s daily funeral record this week with a record high of COVID-19 deaths .
Tombdiggers in the Vila Nova Cachoeirinha cemetery in the northern part of the city, wearing white dangerous goods suits, opened the graves of people buried a few years ago and filled them with bags. The decomposed remains were transported to other locations.
The municipal secretary in charge of funeral services said in a statement that the relocation of the remains is the standard for cemetery activities. But since the pandemic for more than a year, Brazil is suffering from a more serious wave of coronavirus, so it has a new urgency.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported 3,769 new COVID-1
Bolivia announced on Thursday that it would close its border with Brazil, citing concerns about a new disease variant discovered in its larger neighboring country.
A day ago, Butantan, the Brazilian Institute of Biomedical Research, stated that it had discovered a new mutation that was similar to the first discovered in South Africa, which appeared to be more resistant to existing vaccines. The South African variant is more contagious, just like the earlier variant found in Brazil.
Chile also closed its borders to all foreigners on Thursday, and at the same time strengthened strict blockades. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Chile has recorded more than 1 million cases.
José Miguel Bernucci, secretary-general of the Chilean National Medical Association, said: “What is happening in Brazil is a global threat.” “Closing the border will not do much to the variants we have here. Great help, but for new variants that can continue to be created.”
Following the surge in cases, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro refused to support masks and blockades, and countries in the region expressed concern about Brazil becoming a hotbed of new variants.
Bolsonaro, who had previously expressed doubts about immunizations, said on Thursday that he will only decide whether he will vaccinate himself after all Brazilians have been vaccinated.
Brazil is making slow progress in its vaccination campaign, and only about 7% of the population has received the first dose of vaccine.
Brazil’s outbreak is the second largest in the world after the United States, with an average of 3,100 deaths and 74,000 new cases occurring every day in the past week-since February, the incidence of this disease has steadily increased.
Sao Paulo also adopted a late-night funeral to meet the demand and authorized the cemetery to be open until 10 pm.
In Vila Formosa Cemetery, workers wearing masks and full protective gear are digging rows of graves under floodlights and full moon this week.
The coffin followed closely behind. A 32-year-old man put it down in an ordinary wooden box. A 77-year-old woman and her masked relatives gathered near the grave.
The city of São Paulo registered 419 funerals on Tuesday, the highest record since the pandemic began. The City Hall stated that if the funeral continues at this speed, more emergency measures will be needed, but it did not specify.
Brazil currently accounts for a quarter of the global daily deaths from COVID-19, more than any other country.
Infectious disease experts warn that this situation will only get worse due to lax restrictions on exercise and the slow introduction of vaccines.
The World Health Organization said on Thursday that Brazilian hospitals are in critical condition, and many intensive care units have reached 90%.
WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove said in a briefing: “In fact, Brazil is currently experiencing a very serious situation, and some states there are in a critical state.” (Eduardo Simoes and Amanda Reporting by Perobelli, other reports by Aislinn Laing and Maria, writing by Jake Spring, editing by Brad Haynes, Aurora Ellis and Marguerita Choy)
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