Entire staff of Amazon hospital boats test positive

The medical boat named after Pope Francis (Associação e Fraternidade São Francisco de Assis na Providência de Deus)

Two hospital boats sent to the remote communities of the Amazon region in Brazil to treat COVID-19 patients have suspended operations after their entire staff tested positive for the coronavirus. Source: Crux.

Operated by a Franciscan-inspired institute that manages 74 healthcare institutions in Brazil, the boats, named Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II, originally provided all sorts of medical care to riverside communities, but began to focus on COVID-19 since the beginning of 2021.

The epicentre of a second wave of the pandemic in Brazil, the Amazon region has seen a surge of new cases over the past few months, and the local healthcare system has virtually collapsed. A new strain of the virus identified in the city of Manaus, in Amazonas State, is thought to be causing the outbreak.

Nurse technician Marcelo Costa was one of the most severely affected members of the team, which has 26 people. He had 30 per cent of his lungs damaged by the disease and suffered with a severe headache, high fever, and fatigue.

On January 30, the medical team and the boats’ crew members received a COVID-19 vaccination.

“I believe we were already infected by then. Five days later, the first symptoms started to appear,” Mr Costa said.

On February 11, the entire staff was laid up with the disease, and the mission had to be suspended. The boats went to the city of Juruti, where the association runs a clinic, and everyone on board was hospitalised.


Entire staff of Franciscan hospital boats in Amazon infected with COVID-19 (By Eduardo Campos Lima, Crux)

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