Yellow fever vaccine advised for travel to Brazil’s Rio, Sao Paulo states

UNTV News   •   March 23, 2017   •   3611

A vial of Yellow Fever vaccine is pictured at a laboratory in Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The World Health Organization on Monday recommended that travelers to rural areas in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo get yellow fever vaccinations, as Brazil works to contain an outbreak of the virus in the country’s southeast.

While the new recommendation does not include travelers bound for the cities of Rio and Sao Paulo, Brazil’s two biggest urban areas and the capitals of those two states, the advice reflects widening concern over a virus that Brazil’s health ministry said has killed at least 137 people since December.

Scientists do not know why yellow fever is rebounding in a country that had all but eradicated the disease, especially in big cities. The illness, which causes muscle aches and fever, can also prompt complications, like jaundice and kidney failure, that long made it one of the deadliest of tropical maladies.

Since officials began monitoring the outbreak late last year, 424 cases of the disease have been confirmed, compared with just 15 in the two years previous. In addition to the cases confirmed since December, officials are investigating another 933 suspected cases.

So far, the outbreak has been limited to “rural” yellow fever – that is, cases of the virus spread by mosquito species not common in urban areas. That has infected some humans, but mostly monkeys, many of which have been found dead in woodlands.

But authorities are on guard to determine whether the virus will eventually get spread by Aedes aegypti, the urban mosquito known also to carry the dengue and Zika viruses.

To prevent further infections, officials in the state of Rio in recent weeks have accelerated immunization efforts in towns in the north of the state bordering Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, states where the outbreak spread first.

At present, only two confirmed cases of the illness, including one death, have been reported in Rio state.

But now, with long lines forming at 34 public clinics in the capital city itself, Rio’s municipal health service says it will receive extra vaccines from the federal government and expand vaccinations to more than 200 other clinics across the city.

Officials in Rio are also examining the remains of five monkeys found within the city limits.

Although the monkeys were found last October, scientists are trying to determine whether they died of yellow fever. If so, that would suggest the virus has circulated in metropolitan Rio already.

(Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editiny by Bernard Orr)

Brazil sees new coronavirus hotspots as cases soar

UNTV News   •   June 23, 2020

Sao Paulo state officials said Monday (June 22) the growth in cases of coronavirus over the past week was greater in the smaller towns and cities in the interior of the state than in the megacity of Sao Paulo.

A local health official in the sleepy community of Sorocaba some 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) outside of Sao Paulo said people were waiting for beds in intensive care units and that the local health system was, “close to chaos.”

Brazil, has already passed the 1 million mark in coronavirus cases – second only to the United States – and reported a record 54,000 cases in the previous 24 hours.

Latin America’s largest country has frequently recorded more than 1,000 deaths a day over the last month.

President Jair Bolsonaro, sometimes called the “Tropical Trump”, has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis. The country still has no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following reported clashes with the president.

Bolsonaro has shunned social distancing, calling it a job-killing measure more dangerous than the virus itself. He has also promoted two anti-malarial drugs – chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – as remedies, despite a lack of evidence that they work. (Reuters)

(Production: Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera)

Rio eases lockdown despite Brazil cases topping 530,000

UNTV News   •   June 3, 2020

Shops reopened and residents returned to the streets of Rio de Janeiro this week, after local authorities announced a gradual return to economic activity. But for many it is not a return to normality after Brazil’s confirmed coronavirus infections topped 530,000 cases.

On Monday (June 1), Rio’s Mayor Marcelo Crivella announced a gradual reopening of shops and businesses on Tuesday (June 2). But authorities have cautioned that social distancing should be practised.

Rio de Janeiro State Governor Wilson Witzel announced that the use of a face mask is obligatory in public spaces, and tourist sites such as Christ the Redeemer are to remain closed until June 21.

The lockdown has weighed heavily on Brazilians and their hip pockets. The economy was already in the throes of a recession when coronavirus hit and this year the government expects Latin America’s biggest economy to contract by 4.7% this year, which itself would be a record.

Brazil has registered over 530,000 coronavirus cases and more than 30,000 deaths. (Reuters)

(Production: Sebastian Rocandio, Paul Vieira)

Brazilians scramble to board last U.S. flights ahead of travel ban

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Brazilians scrambled Monday (May 25) to make last-minute arrangements to get to the United States ahead of new restrictions on travel from Brazil.

A handful of passengers were seen at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport preparing to board a United Flight to Houston Monday after the U.S. government brought the restrictions forward by two days as the number of deaths from the new coronavirus in the South American nation surpassed the U.S. daily toll.

A White House statement amended the timing of the start of the restrictions to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 26 (0359 GMT on Wednesday, May 27) instead of May 28 as in the original announcement on Sunday (May 24).

Two days earlier, Brazil overtook Russia as the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hotspot after the United States. Washington’s ban applies to foreigners traveling to the United States if they had been in Brazil in the last two weeks.

Brazil’s coronavirus deaths reported in the last 24 hours were higher than fatalities in the United States for the first time on Monday, according to the health ministry. Brazil registered 807 deaths and 620 died in the United States.

Brazil has 374,898 cases, behind the U.S. with 1.637 million. Total deaths in the U.S. has reached 97,988, according to Reuters tally, compared with Brazil at 23,473.

The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed the example of U.S. President Donald Trump in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto)

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