- Title: Early reopening turns Brazil's capital into COVID-19 hot spot
- Date: 10th July 2020
- Summary: BRASILIA, BRAZIL (JULY 10, 2020) (REUTERS) SIDEWALK OUTSIDE BUS STATION WITH VIEW OF BRASILIA'S GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS IN BACKGROUND VARIOUS OF BRAZIL'S NATIONAL CONGRESS BUILDING CATHEDRAL OF BRASILIA VARIOUS OF BUSES AT BUS STATION PEOPLE WALKING BY VENDORS IN BUS STATION PERSON CARRYING CAKE VARIOUS OF VENDORS IN STATION PEOPLE WAITING FOR BUS (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LOCAL RESIDENT, AMANDA VIEIRA, SAYING: "There isn't much protection for us. You can see the bus station is full, so there's no social distancing, people are wearing masks, but they're not following the preventative measures. There's not much control." VARIOUS OF STAIRS VARIOUS OF SHOPS IN BUS STATION PEOPLE WALKING, WEARING FACE MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LOCAL RESIDENT, DEUSUITA SILVA, SAYING: "Closing down shops is good, but there are a lot of people who are unemployed. People need to work to support their families. They've reopened stores and people have to know that you have to be cautious." VARIOUS OF CARS ON ROAD PAN OF STREET LINED WITH SHOPS CLOSED STORES VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET, SOME NOT WEARING FACE MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LOCAL RESIDENT, MARIA AUXILIADORA, SAYING: "My children went back to work at a shopping mall. They work in stores and they are all infected, they all got coronavirus. I haven't been close to my children for 20 days because they're in isolation, because the mall opened and they work in stores. They spent two months quarantined at home and when they went back (to work) they became infected within 15 days." STOREFRONTS BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT, JAIR BOLSONARO, SEEN AT EXTERIOR OF THE PALACIO DA ALVORADA VARIOUS OF BOLSONARO SEEN OUTSIDE PALACE VARIOUS OF BOLSONARO SEEN SPEAKING ON TELEPHONE BOLSONARO INSIDE PALACE
- Embargoed: 24th July 2020 21:25
- Keywords: Bolsonaro Brasilia Brazil COVID-19 capital cases coronavirus infections lockdown measures outbreak quarantine reopening shutdown
- Location: BRASILIA, BRAZIL
- City: BRASILIA, BRAZIL
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001CM89UTJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Brazil's modernistic capital Brasilia was the first big city in the country to adopt social distancing measures to curb the pandemic in March and was weathering the crisis well, until the lifting of quarantine rules triggered a surge in cases, health experts say.
Among the city's spate of high-profile patients is President Jair Bolsonaro himself, who said on Tuesday (July 7) he tested positive for the novel coronavirus after running a fever.
Under pressure from Bolsonaro, mayors and governors across Brazil are loosening isolation orders even as confirmed infections explode past 1.7 million cases, with nearly 70,000 dead - the world's worst outbreak outside the United States.
Brasilia is a case study in the risks of reopening. The capital now has more infections per capita than any other major city in Brazil, with 2,133 confirmed cases per 100,000 people. That is more than two times higher than metropolitan Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, according to Health Ministry statistics.
Some of that may come down to more testing in Brasilia, which has the country's highest income per capita. But specialists say the recent explosion in cases has clearly been driven by a premature reopening.
Gyms and beauty parlors reopened on Tuesday (July 7). Bars and restaurants will resume business next week under a decree by Federal District Governor Ibaneis Rocha.
On Wednesday (July 8), a judge suspended the decree reopening Brasilia and the city appealed the ruling. The governor then declared a lockdown for all but essential activities in Ceilandia and Sol Nascente, adjacent shantytown hot spots.
Brazil's third-largest city, with 3 million inhabitants, Brasilia reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 5 - a woman of 52 who had returned from Britain and Switzerland.
In the two months after its first fatality, on March 24, Brasilia's death toll climbed slowly to 100. But in the month after shopping malls reopened, on May 27, confirmed cases and deaths accelerated five-fold.
(Production: Leonardo Benassatto, Patrick Alwine)
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