Brazilian drug gangs are taking coronavirus prevention measures into their own hands.
Gangsters in Rio de Janeiro’s City of God — a sprawling complex of slums made famous in a 2002 movie by the same name — blared a message to residents instituting a curfew to curb the spread of the virus.
“We’re imposing a curfew because nobody is taking this seriously,” said the message, according to Rio’s Extra newspaper.
“Whoever is in the street screwing around or going for a walk will receive a corrective and serve as an example. Better to stay home doing nothing. The message has been given.”
At least 2,201 people have been infected across Brazil, with 46 related deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
And there’s a high risk that the disease will spread quickly in the packed, poorer neighborhoods, called favelas, potentially causing a major public health challenge.
“The entry of the coronavirus into denser, less planned and less culturally assisted areas could be devastating,” Edmilson Migowski, an infectologist at Rio’s Federal University, told Reuters.
“Where water, soap and detergent are lacking, it will be difficult to stop the spread,” Migowski said.
Many pharmacies in the neighborhoods have run out of hand sanitizer, and, when available, were prohibitively expensive, said Thamiris Deveza, a family doctor working in Rio’s Alemao complex of slums.
Residents there have been complaining for two weeks of a lack of running water, making it difficult for them to wash their hands, Deveza said.
“Basic sanitation is terrible,” said Jefferson Maia, a 27-year-old resident of the City of God.
“Sometimes, we don’t even have water to wash our hands properly,” Maia said. “We are very concerned with the coronavirus issue.”
Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella has said that officials will drop off free soap at entrances of the city’s favelas and relocate older people with health problems to hotels.
Rio’s urban sanitation unit on Tuesday began cleaning of some of the city’s most transited areas.
With Post wires
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