Indigenous communities in Brazil fear pandemic’s impact (4-24-20)

Indigenous communities in Brazil fear pandemic’s impact

By Ignacio Amigo

Science, 24 April 2020

To the older generation of the Paiter Surui, the COVID-19 pandemic looks disturbingly familiar. The Indigenous people, who inhabit the border of the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso, suffered hundreds of deaths from measles and other infectious diseases in the decades after they first made contact with non-Indigenous people in 1969. The survivors “already experienced what is hap- pening in the world today with the corona- virus,” says Rubens Naraikoe Surui, a young Indigenous leader.

Now, as the number of coronavirus cases soars in Brazil, the Pater Surui and other In- digenous people worry they could be hard hit. So far, 27 members of such groups are known to have had COVID-19 infections, and three have died: a 15-year-old Yano- mami boy, a 78-year-old Tikuna man, and a 44-year-old Kokama woman.

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