COVID-19 is now a global pandemic and has hit almost every country in the world, including Brazil. André Bertran comments on the developments in his home country.
© Shutterstock Tekst Inge Corino
‘A large chunk of the population is fearfully following the situation in other places, especially Italy, and doing all they can to slow the spread of the virus. As my cousin lives with her elderly parents for example, every time she returns from walking her dogs, she immediately takes off all of her clothes and has a shower. But, just like in the Netherlands, unfortunately there are also still a lot of people who go to the beach, or host a party. Being social is in our genes, and it’s not making this easy.
An even bigger obstacle for containing the damage of the virus is the huge disparity in Brazil. While there are some who can afford the luxury of staying home, the majority of people can’t. A huge part of the already struggling economy in Brazil is our microeconomy: small business owners such as the guy with the food stand or the woman repairing clothes. If they stop working, the economic damage will be critical. But if everyone keeps going to work, the virus can spread easily.
Our public health system is probably ill equipped to keep up with demand. Initially, there weren’t enough tests available. I’m especially worried about my mom. She falls in a triple risk group, as she’s over 65, has high blood-pressure and a weakened immune system due to her cancer history. Luckily, my mom is retired so she can stay at home more easily. It’s beautiful to see that Brazilians are really trying to help each other. Artists are live-streaming concerts and telling their followers to stay home. Local governments are taking actions and universities are offering their resources. I’d advise everyone to keep in touch with your elderly relatives. And please take care of your own mental health as well.’