AGENCIES, Brazil: A Yanomami indigenous tribal boy has died after contracting the coronavirus, authorities in Brazil confirmed on Friday. Brazil has more than 300 indigenous tribes and in the first week of April had reported its first case of a woman contracting the infection.
The 15-year-old boy, the first Yanomami to be diagnosed with the virus, was under treatment for a week ago at an intensive care unit in Boa Vista, the capital of the northern state of Roraima, but died of severe respiratory complications on Thursday night, according to the Brazil’s health ministry.
Indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest are particularly vulnerable to diseases as they remain isolated. But isolation doesn’t guarantee that they won’t get the infection which is brought in from the outside world. A Yanomami rights group said the boy had come in to contact with “many” other indigenous people after he began showing symptoms.
The Hutukara Association said the boy went more than two weeks without a proper diagnosis from the time he first went to the hospital with respiratory symptoms.
A major outbreak among indigenous communities in Brazil would amount to a “genocide,” said Katia Brasil, editor at Amazonia Real news agency, which specializes in issues facing Amazonian peoples. “This disease is very dangerous for us,” said Dario Yawarioma, a Yanomami leader.
Brazil is home to an estimated 800,000 indigenous people representing 300 ethnic groups.
Largely isolated from the outside world until the mid-20th century, they were devastated by diseases such as measles and malaria in the 1970s.
He was the third indigenous person in Brazil to die after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to newspaper Globo. The others were from the Borari and Muru ethnic groups. At least eight indigenous patients from five ethnicities have tested positive for the virus, according to Globo.
Brazil is the country hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America, with 1,000 deaths so far.