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  • Dozens of people walk on a shopping street in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dec. 12, 2020.

    Dozens of people walk on a shopping street in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dec. 12, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 January 2021
Opinion

Controlling the new strain will be difficult in Brazil, considering that  President Jair Bolsonaro's administration has failed to contain the original strain.

Brazil's health authorities Monday confirmed in Sao Paulo the first two cases of patients infected by the new British COVID-19 strain. 

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The state-owned Adolfo Lutz Institute's Strategic Laboratory confirmed the  cases after performing the genetic sequencing of samples sent by Sao Paulo's DASA private laboratory. 

A 25-year-old woman is one patient affected by the new strain. She was infected after having contact with several travelers from the United Kingdom. Health authorities are investigating the source of infection of another 34-year-old man.

In late December, dozens of governments worldwide temporarily suspended international flights from or to the U.K. to control the new strain's spread.

"The new mutation's arrival in Brazil could be catastrophic," the Brazilian professor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, Tulio de Oliveira, warned last week.

The professor, who led the team that discovered the coronavirus mutation last month, told the BBC that "because the strain's transmissions are faster, hospitals could become overcrowded with patients needing intensive care."

It is imperative to make sure there are hospital beds and reduce the number of people who die from this disease. "To achieve it will be difficult in Brazil, a country that could not control the original virus," he assured.

So far, Brazil has reported over 7 million infections and over 196,000 deaths. It is the third most affected country worldwide, behind the U.S. and India.

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