Out of Control

Covid cases surged over 1000% in the capital since businesses reopened

Contradicting reality, governor Ibaneis insists on loosening restrictions, even as hospital beds fill up

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | Brasília (DF) |
"It's almost like pretending, as if the problem is resolved', says family doctor working in the country's capital - Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil

Governor Ibaneis’ decision to reopen businesses in the Federal District on May 18th, has made coronavirus cases surge over 1000% up till Wednesday, July 1st, leaping from 4.123 to 49.218 infections according to the latest tally.

The out of control numbers happening so quickly forced local authorities (GDF) to declare a state of public calamity on Monday, June 29th. Despite this, contradicting reality, governor Ibaneis decided to allow for the resumption of even more activities, like professional soccer training and recreational country clubs.

On the same day that he signed the emergency decree, the governor said, in an interview to the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, that restrictions aren’t of any use and that he would treat the outbreak like the common flu, “as it should have been from the beginning”.

With the disease free to circulate, however, hospitals are reaching their breaking points. According to the Federal District Public Ministry (MPDFT), over 90% of Intensive Care Units (ICU) are occupied, a number which differs from that of governor’s office at 66%.

Due to this discrepancy, the state attorney subpoenaed the GDF to explain the distortion and omission of the numbers released to the population.

The overcrowding is confirmed by ICU physician Caroline Mascarenhas. She affirms that in the hospitals where she works, capacity is already at 100%. “We don’t have enough beds for 2 or 3 more weeks of an increase in cases, like what is happening now. We don’t have space, it’s over. If it keeps going up like this people won’t be able to be cared for”, she relates.

No criteria

For Marcos Pedrosa, a family and community doctor in the Federal District (DF), the loosening of restrictions put in place by the governor is completely disconnected from reality.

“We would only be able to discuss reopening based on three criteria, which are if the epidemic was showing signs of being under control, which it’s not, if the healthcare system demonstrated that it was able to deal with a new explosion in cases, which is not the case, and if testing capacity was adequate, which in fact it is not”, he explains.

Pedrosa was one of the co-authors of a study, alongside researchers from the University of Brasilia, to find out if reopening of non-essential services would indeed save the local economy, as governor Ibaneis preaches. The research indicated that tax revenues on the sale of goods and services went down, even with businesses opening their doors.

“Tax revenues didn’t go up, because people are afraid, they aren’t going out, at least not to be consumers. Revenues are going down, the curve in cases is exploding, even with the loosening of restrictions.

For example, he says that in May of 2019, the GDF collected around R$883 million, compared to just R$671 in the same month this year, for a loss of R$212 million.

Pedrosa is of the opinion that saying the economy will get back up and running even with a rise in covid-19 cases, is a lie. He defends a total lockdown until the numbers start to drop.

“It’s almost like pretending, as if the problem was already resolved and it isn’t. It will not bring any results from and economic or tax revenue perspective and we may even have to backtrack, probably, if the number of cases goes off the charts”.

Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas e Rodrigo Durão Coelho