In Rio, Favelas Await the Arrival of Coronavirus without Water

The circulation of residents decreased little in the communities

Júlia Barbon Tércio Teixeira
Rio de Janeiro

Since the arrival of the novel coronavirus in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the circulation of people in favelas has not decreased much. In favelas like Rocinha, Tabajaras, and Providência, some residents live without water, and crowds can still be found on the streets. Families live in a single room. Workers are still on the move. Children play in the streets. Shops remain open, and bars are crowded.

In Beco do Índio, for example, a small favela in Recreio (west zone), even the sick haven't quarantined themselves away from the population.

A man relaxes on Ipanema beach following the closure of the beaches amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 22, 2020 REUTERS/Sergio Moraes - REUTERS

There, a masked 31-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, screamed from the balcony. She has been terrified since she started experiencing a high fever, cough, body aches, and difficulty breathing. She went to the clinic but, without tests for the coronavirus, the clinic recommended only isolation.

"This quarantine is very selective. Whoever manages to stay at home while receiving a check, ok. But whoever depends on the day's money to eat needs to leave. If there is is no federal policy addressed to the favela, when the virus arrives, it will be like a domino", said Cintia Sant'Anna, 34, a resident of Morro da Providência.

The only widely disseminated action aimed at communities so far has been the activation of Civil Defense sirens in 103 areas, three times a day, asking the population to "fight the coronavirus and please avoid leaving". More than a fifth of Cariocas live in favelas, according to the 2010 Census.

Until Saturday (21), the state of Rio de Janeiro had recorded three deaths from coronavirus.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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