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Fear of coronavirus spreads to Indian tribes in the Amazon

Members of the Tikuna tribe in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, checked by an employee of the indigenous health ministry in Lago Grande on April 2, 2020 (AFP / SESAI)

On Saturday, a case of Covid-19 was officially identified in the Amazon. A first case that says nothing about the fear that is spreading to the Indian villages of the Amazon. He is a young Indian nurse who has been in contact with a positive doctor himself. She was quarantined. She lives on the border between Brazil and Colombia, and she is a member of the Kokama tribe. His case alerts especially to the major risk run by 800,000 Indians in Brazil. The Brazilian president continues to minimize the risks of the virus, calling in particular for a day of national fasting. Against the advice of most of the country's governors, who have begun to contain their populations.

It is impossible to confine such scattered tribes. But the Indians chose to isolate themselves as much as possible. Visits are prohibited, and Indian chiefs who have gone abroad to plead their cases have all been quarantined. The state of the Amazon ended up declaring a state of emergency, to prohibit all entry and exit from Indian territories. If the pandemic reaches the tribes, especially those who are isolated, they will not be able to cope. The remoteness and lack of basic drugs makes any intervention almost impossible.

The natives have no defense against diseases from the outside world. An Amazonian Indian can die from simple sore throat or from the common flu. The prospect of the arrival of the coronavirus is therefore terrifying. It should be remembered that 95% of the Indian population died at the time of colonization. Simply diseases imported by Europeans.

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