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Brazil’s Amazonas state running out of oxygen amid COVID surge | Coronavirus pandemic News



Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the hospital system in the city of Manaus is collapsing.

The Brazilian state of Amazonas is running out of oxygen during a renewed surge in COVID-19 deaths, its government said on Thursday, with media reporting that people on respirators were dying of suffocation in hospitals.

The state has made a dramatic appeal to the United States to send a military transport plane to the capital city Manaus with oxygen cylinders.

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the hospital system in the city is collapsing from a second wave of COVID-19 and it is running out of oxygen. He said the city’s hospitals were short of medical staff as deaths surge again.

“They took my father off the oxygen,” Raissa Floriano said outside the 28 de Agosto hospital in Manaus, where people protested that relatives suffering serious cases of COVID-19 were being unhooked from ventilators for lack of oxygen.

Sobbing, Floriano said she was looking for an oxygen cylinder to save her 73-year-old father Alfonso.

Brazil is home to the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak after the US. The country has reported more than 207,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Manaus was one of the first Brazilian cities struck by a spiralling death count and caseload from the first wave of the pandemic last year.

A health worker reacts at Getulio Vargas hospital, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manaus, Brazil, January 14, 2021 [Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

With emergency services pushed to breaking point, Governor Nelson Lima announced a statewide curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus during the devastating second wave.

Health authorities said oxygen supplies had run out at some hospitals and intensive care wards were so full that many patients were being airlifted to other states.

Amazonas health secretary Marcellus Campelo said the state needs almost three times more oxygen than it can produce locally and appealed for supplies from other states.

Public health experts gave dramatic accounts of people dying of COVID-19 in ICUs with no oxygen.

“The oxygen ran out and the hospitals have turned into suffocation chambers,” Fiocruz-Amazonia researcher Jesem Orellana told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “Patients who manage to survive could suffer permanent brain damage,” he said.

Meanwhile, a new variant of the virus was detected in Japan on Sunday in four people who had come from Amazonas and the UK slapped a ban on new arrivals from Brazil due to fears of the new variant.

Researchers said the new variant could be contributing to the sharp rise in cases in Amazonas state, although they were conducting more studies to ascertain if it is more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

The neighbouring state of Para announced on Thursday it was banning travel boats coming down the river from Amazonas, citing a rise in cases and the identification of the new variant.

The UK said it would ban travellers from Brazil, several other South American countries and Portugal. The new variant features 12 mutations, including one also found in highly infectious variants recently discovered in the UK and South Africa that have begun circulating around the globe.

Researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Amazonia Foundation said the new variant found in Japan likely appeared in northern Brazil between December and January.

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US debt projected to balloon to more than double GDP by 2051 | Debt News



The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that by 2051, the United States’ debt will skyrocket to 202 percent of its gross domestic product, up from 102 percent this year.

The U.S. federal debt will grow to more than double the size of the economy in three decades, increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis even though dangers appear low in the near term, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Debt will be equivalent to 202% of gross domestic product by 2051 from 102% this year, the nonpartisan arm of the legislature said Thursday in its long-term budget outlook. Its projection for 195% in 2050 was unchanged from the prior report, whose forecasts ran through that year.

Net interest payments on the debt are expected to remain relatively low for the next decade, then rise rapidly over the following 20 years, the CBO said. The agency projects 10-year Treasury yield, after inflation, at 2.6% in 2050. The nominal yield was at 1.54%, near the highest in more than a year, on Thursday.

The CBO also said that the two Social Security trust funds, for seniors and people with disabilities, will be exhausted later than the agency projected last year.

The report — which doesn’t reflect the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan currently working its way through Congress — follows the selloff in Treasuries over the past week that sent yields spiking. Investors are gaining more confidence that rates will move up, with U.S. growth and the labor market set for a stronger-than-expected uptick as vaccines roll out and states lift restrictions.

The CBO outlook’s debt projections will likely underpin already-firm opposition by Republicans to the relief plan, and could also concern some Democratic lawmakers as President Joe Biden prepares a followup multitrillion-dollar plan to build infrastructure and boost the economy in other ways.

“The risk of a fiscal crisis appears to be low in the short run despite the higher deficits and debt stemming from the pandemic,” the CBO said in the report. “Nonetheless, the much higher debt over time would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis in the years ahead.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the U.S. economy still has a long way to go before the central bank considers tightening, and underscored that the low-inflation world of the past several decades is unlikely to change.

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