Oxygen shortage and rising cases: COVID-19 haunts Manaus, Amazon’s biggest city
PIC: AFP

Dozens of COVID-19 patients in the Amazon rainforest's biggest city will be flown out of state as the local health system collapses, authorities have announced as dwindling stocks of oxygen tanks meant some people were starting to die breathless at home.

Doctors in Manaus, a city of 2 million people, were choosing which patients to treat, and at least one of the city's cemeteries asked mourners to line up to enter and bury their dead.

Patients in overloaded hospitals waited in despair throughout the day on Thursday as oxygen cylinders arrived to save some, but came too late for others.

The strains prompted Amazonas state's government to say it would transport 235 patients who depend on oxygen but aren't in intensive-care units to five other states and the federal capital, Brasilia.

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão said on Twitter that the country's air force had taken more than eight tons of hospital items including oxygen cylinders, beds and tents to Manaus.

Federal prosecutors in the city, however, asked a local judge to put pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro's administration to step up its

support.

UK bans travel from South America

The United Kingdom is banning travel from the whole of South America and Portugal amid concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus in Brazil, authorities here announced.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that as of 4 am Friday, arrivals from more than a dozen countries, including Argentina, Chile and Peru, will be halted "following evidence of a new variant in Brazil." Outside South America, the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa and Panama in Central America were also slapped with travel bans.

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