Amazon's Riverside People Suffer from Loss of Income and Coronavirus Fears

Pandemic worsens chasm in remote locations, where homes prevent isolation and resources disappear

Julielza Simões, 37, sees in the silence that has taken over her community a sign of concern. "The feeling is that we are even more forgotten."

The riverside inhabitant opens the door of his wooden house, elevated one meter from the ground, out onto the immensity of the river.

In these waters, just a few months before, the small canoes took children to school and adults to the city, where they sold their products at the fairs. Today everything is just silence.

In the most remote parts of Brazil, the new coronavirus has not only paralyzed the movement of life. It also deepened old social inequalities.

Simões and daughters Tainara, 2, and Ana Júlia, 7, received Folha in Boca do Jacaré, a village of fewer than ten houses on the banks of the Juruá River, in the Amazon. Two days earlier, the woman had only one coffee package and another of cornstarch in the bucket where she kept groceries. In the fridge, there was tapir and pirarucu meat.

Her husband, mail carrier Renato Ferreira de Lima, 27, transported children to a rural school, but he lost his job when classes were suspended.

The arrival of a speedboat loaded with basic baskets covered the silence. About 700 kits will reach other villages on the banks of the Juruá. The project, which has the support of the federal government, companies, and NGOs, is ambitious: it wants to bring supplies to the Solimões River's riverside, almost 150 thousand people.

Deliveries accompanied by Folha are under the Instituto Missional seal, a social organization based in Maringá (PR), which says it is guided by biblical precepts but seeks to detach itself from the old practices of the evangelical missionary movement.

The interior of Amazonas is one of the most affected regions in the pandemic. Without Intensive Care Units and few doctors, the battle for the coronavirus is lost. And it is even more isolated.

After the health system of the capital, Manaus, collapsed in May, the 61 municipalities in Amazonas concentrated 60% of the 83 thousand cases of Covid-19 in the state. The state has the second-highest death rate from the disease in the country (72 cases for every 100 thousand inhabitants), behind only that of Ceará.

JURUA/AM BRASIL- 23.06.2020 - Julielza de Souza Simas with her children.(Foto: Zanone Fraissat/Folhapress)

Getting to the communities of Juruá, a 3,000 km winding corridor, takes time and willingness. The village houses are already supplied with electricity, but they are in a region where only 27% of them have an adequate bathroom and running water.

The village is visited by a health worker once every three months. In the last meeting, the professional left only medicine for worms. In the absence of drugs, people improvise in the forest.

Researchers at UFAM seek to know if the mast can mitigate Covid-19, but warn: the consumption of the raw plant can intoxicate and cause complications in pregnant women.

Boca do Jacaré survives with the emergency transfer of R $ 600 from the federal government. Going to the city to get help is the biggest concern of the riverside residents. At least 263 people were infected with the coronavirus as of Wednesday (8).

In a city of nearly 15,000, there have been three deaths from Covid-19.

Most of the population wore a mask but sinned on another recommendation: social distancing. Entire families flocked to the streets and doors.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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