Minister of Health Admits that It Knew of Problems with Oxygen in Manaus since January 8

Suffocation deaths in the Amazonas capital first reported about a week later


Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello admitted on Monday (18) that he learned of the possibility of a lack of oxygen in the Amazonas on January 8, a week before the most serious day of asphyxiation deaths in the state.

"From the 8th of January, we learned from a letter from White Martins that there could be a lack of oxygen if there were no actions to mitigate this problem," said Pazuello at a press conference in which he answered questions from only four journalists.

Relatives of patients hospitalised or receiving healthcare at home, who are mostly suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), gather to buy oxygen and fill cylinders at a private company in Manaus, Brazil January 18, 2021. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly - REUTERS

"This was a surprise for both the state government and us. Until then, the oxygen issue was managed by the company itself," said the general.

Pazuello said the hospitalization rate had increased rapidly and that "consumption had tripled, quadrupled, quintupled," notingthe company had not met the demand.

Folha showed on Saturday (16) that Pazuello had been warned about the critical shortage of oxygen in Manaus by members of the government of Amazonas, by the company that supplies the product and even by his sister-in-law who had a family member “who didn’t have enough oxygen for the entire day.” But he ignored the alerts.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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