Brazilian city in Amazon declares virus state of emergency

National/World

Health workers remove the body of a COVID-19 victim from a container, being used as a makeshift morgue, to turn over to a family outside the Joao Lucio public Hospital in Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Brazilian city of Manaus in the heart of the Amazon has declared a 180-day state of emergency due to a surge of new cases of coronavirus, according to a statement.

The decree enables the municipal government to temporarily contract personnel, services and material without public tenders. A separate decree suspends authorization for events and revokes those already granted, while a third establishes telecommuting for non-essential municipal employees through March.

“We are adopting all the necessary measures to contribute decisively to the fight against COVID-19, especially at this moment in which the city is registering an increase in cases and, unfortunately, deaths,” Mayor David Almeida was quoted as saying in the statement.

Manaus was one of the first Brazilian cities slammed by the pandemic early last year, when hospitals turned away patients and the city cemetery was forced to bury people in mass graves.

This week, people again complained on social media of overcrowding in hospitals with patients awaiting treatment on stretchers in corridors. Hospitals have reinstalled refrigerated containers outside their facilities to hold the corpses of COVID-19 victims.

The city of about 2.2 million has recorded about 3,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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