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News > Brazil

Brazil's Health Minister Denies Responsibility in Manaus Crisis

  • Health worker supplies oxygen cylinders, Manaus, Brazil, on January 19, 2021.

    Health worker supplies oxygen cylinders, Manaus, Brazil, on January 19, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 12 February 2021

This official tried to justify the inefficiency of President Jair Bolsonaro's administration by arguing that "Manaus didn't warn about oxygen shortage."

Brazil's Health Minister Eduardo Pazzuello Thursday assured before the Senate that neither local authorities nor the Unified Health System (SUS) warned about the oxygen shortage that caused Manaus' hospitals to collapse in January.


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"The first request that we received was to send 150 oxygen cylinders to Manaus, and so we did. At the moment, we didn't know about the oxygen shortage," said Pazuello.

A day after that request, "we received the alert that COVID-19 patients were suffocating to death due to lack of oxygen," added the Minister who is under investigation for his responsibility in the Amazon state's health crisis.

However, the SUS claimed to have sent a previous report to the Ministry explaining that "hospitals are collapsed. There is a problem in the gas network that impairs the oxygen supply in the municipality."

In January, at least 50 people died in Manaus due to the lack of oxygen and intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Thousands of patients had to be airlifted to other cities less impacted by the pandemic.

"Pazuello failed to take action and now blames local authorities for his inefficiency," journalist Naiara Galarraga said, recalling that thousands of desperate families are still searching for supplies to keep their relatives alive.

The Minister also blamed the COVID-19 new strain for the city's health collapse. "That new mutation is advancing strongly throughout Brazil," he warned.

In late January, the Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against Pazuello to determine whether there was an omission by President Jair Bolsonaro's administration regarding the Amazon State's crisis.

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