WORLD 13 Brazilian cities impose strict lockdowns due to COVID-19

WORLD

13 Brazilian cities impose strict lockdowns due to COVID-19

Xinhua

07:33, March 17, 2021

SAO PAULO, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Some 13 cities in Brazil's southeast state of Sao Paulo on Tuesday announced five-day total lockdowns starting Wednesday to reduce cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which have led to the collapse of area hospitals.

Picture of an almost empty street in Sao Paulo, Brazil, taken on March 15, 2021 hours before a night-time curfew takes effect in the state of Sao Paulo amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: AFP)

The announcement came as Sao Paulo state, Brazil's pandemic epicenter, exceeded 90 percent hospital occupancy, with more than 20 hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients and record-high daily deaths in March.

"Opening more beds is of no use to us, we cannot cope," Edinho Araujo, mayor of Sao Jose do Rio Preto, one of the cities that spearheaded the policy of total lockdown, told reporters at a press conference.

The city of Ribeirao Preto, a major productive hub in Brazil, also announced a total lockdown, including idling mass transit systems and closing supermarkets to the general public; they will be able to continue home deliveries.

These cities were joined by the smaller towns of Ibira, Nova Alianca, Nova Granada, Palestina, Mira Estrela, Icem, Guapiacu, Monte Aprazivel, Jales, Bady Bassitt and Sales.

Lockdowns may be extended past Sunday, though public transit services will resume Monday for transporting essential workers only.

Brazil is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 cases fueled in part by a new variant of the virus that emerged in northern Amazonas state.

The Sao Paulo city of Araraquara imposed a total lockdown last week and saw a 50 percent drop in COVID-19 transmission, with hospital occupancy falling to 94 percent.

Sao Paulo state has registered 64,223 deaths from the disease and 2,208,242 cases of infection since Brazil's first case was detected there on Feb. 26, 2020.

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