Hospitals are running of oxygen in Brazil and people are dying of suffocation amid renewed Covid surge

An enormous state in northwestern state in Brazil, Amazonas is running out of oxygen and people are dying of suffocation in hospitals, amid renewed surge in COVID-19 infections.

The state has made a dramatic appeal to the United States to send a military transport plane to the capital city Manaus with oxygen cylinders.

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the hospital system in the city is collapsing from a second wave of COVID-19 and it is running out of oxygen. He said the city’s hospitals were short of medical staff as deaths surged again.

Brazil is home to the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak after the US. The country has reported more than 207,000 deaths.

Manaus was one of the first Brazilian cities struck by a spiralling death count and caseload from the first wave of the pandemic last year.

With emergency services pushed to breaking point, Governor Nelson Lima announced a statewide curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus during the devastating second wave.

Health authorities said oxygen supplies had run out at some hospitals and intensive care wards were so full that many patients were being airlifted to other states.

Amazonas health secretary Marcellus Campelo said the state needs almost three times more oxygen than it can produce locally and appealed for supplies from other states.

Public health experts gave dramatic accounts of people dying of COVID-19 in ICUs with no oxygen.

“The oxygen ran out and the hospitals have turned into suffocation chambers,” Fiocruz-Amazonia researcher Jesem Orellana told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “Patients who manage to survive could suffer permanent brain damage,” he said.

Researchers said the new variant could be contributing to the sharp rise in cases in Amazonas state, although they were conducting more studies to ascertain if it is more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

The neighbouring state of Para announced on Thursday it was banning travel boats coming down the river from Amazonas, citing a rise in cases and the identification of the new variant.