RIO – A council composed of about ten renowned health professionals delivered to the governor of Rio, Wilson Witzel, a letter asking for the radicalization of social isolation in the state to contain the progress of the coronavirus – that is, the so-called lockdown. The measures, discussed at a meeting last Thursday, include roadblocks and an effective ban on the movement of people and vehicles, which have increased in recent weeks.

The governor, in turn, said in an interview to the Roda Viva program that the imposition of a lockdown should come from the judiciary. For that, it counts on an action of the Public Ministry, organ with which it meets this Tuesday. On the board of notables, however, the understanding is that the adoption of new measures must come from the Executive.

“The judicialization of this process creates a series of operational difficulties. It would be much more appropriate for the government to assume responsibility and explain the measures clearly to the population,” says former Health Minister José Gomes Temporão, who is on the board and commanded the folder during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. “It’s a decision for yesterday. What happens today will be expressed in deaths two weeks from now.”

There is an assessment that the superlative numbers observed in the last few days in the country, both those infected and those killed, are related to two aspects – both caused by the federal government. The first is that, according to Temporão, economic policy is not at the service of Health, which means that the population needs to take to the streets to support themselves financially. The second would be the very stance of President Jair Bolsonaro, who changed the Minister of Health and “sets a bad example” through his attitudes.

“These two factors made it possible, in the last few weeks, to realize, in metropolises, that the percentage of people who maintain isolation has dropped by up to 50%. This causes the transmission speed to increase”, he says. “Scenes of people dying at home, in hospitals, waiting for beds, respirators … This is the day to day of underreporting, both of cases and of deaths.”

Based on the understanding that the occupation of today’s streets will be the numerical tragedy in two weeks, the council established guidelines that were referred to the governor. They include: blocking state roads; effective ban on the movement of people and vehicles that are not in essential areas; creation of a plan for the future exit from isolation, which involves further testing the population; mobilization of community leaders to pass the message of isolation; and the dissemination of the importance of measures with empathy, “without authoritarianism”.

The measures would also be adopted based on an analysis of each region, according to how affected it was. The counselors, who meet periodically with each other and with the State Secretary of Health, Edmar Santos, highlight the importance of passing on information clearly, without giving the appearance of “health police”.

As for the future exit from isolation, Temporão points out that a positive side of the Brazilian case is that other countries, such as the Europeans and the United States, are going through advanced stages of the crisis, which allows us to observe what is being done there.

“We can learn from that too, but for that we have to have some criteria: among others, that the universal use of a mask is here to stay. When we go out, everyone should wear masks”, he says. “And we will have to have substantive data that the number of deaths is falling. We have to have a capacity to care for ICU beds and respirators, between 30 and 50% of idle, back-up supply. And we have to test more. Not necessarily everyone, but knowing how to test: using scientific criteria to establish patterns of spread of the virus. “

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