RECIFE – With a drop in adherence to social isolation and an increasing burden on the health system, Pernambuco is studying applying lockdown, that is, total blockages in cities, due to the advancement of the new coronavirus. According to state health officials, the government has already asked for support from the army and submitted the proposal to the Legislative Assembly and the Ministry of Health.

“Today, Governor Paulo Câmara (PSB) called a meeting with the other powers of the State to discuss the need to intensify social isolation. We are designing this process and studying how to do it to ensure that it is successful”, said the secretary State of Health, André Longo. “It is very important, at this moment, to flatten the curve so that we can reach the peak of the epidemic with the lowest number of cases and deaths.”

According to Longo, the government of Pernambuco sent a letter to the Military Command of the Northeast, requesting support for restrictive measures against the covid-19. The State would also have requested assistance from the Ministry of Health to apply the lockdown.

Pernambuco Governor Paulo Câmara asks people to stay at home

Photo: Disclosure / Estadão

“We made a point of making this request so that there would be a public demonstration by the Ministry of Health, recognizing the difficulties of Pernambuco”, said the secretary. “Unfortunately, we still don’t have the unit that allows us to work, all together, to build the lockdown or the necessary quarantine. And, after that, build the exit with criteria.”

According to the epidemiological bulletin of this Monday, 4, Pernambuco has registered 8,863 diagnoses and 691 deaths by covid-19 so far. In the State, 98% of the 435 ICU beds are occupied. “We have no choice but to increase social isolation,” said the secretary.

In the government’s analysis, the most worrying situation is in Greater Recife, considered the epicenter of the pandemic. “The balance sheet indicates that 90% of the most serious cases are located in the Metropolitan Region of Recife, which also has about 85% of cases of death,” said Longo.

Monitoring in Pernambuco points to consecutive declines in adherence to social isolation, according to the government. In the last measurement, made last week, the index was 46% – well below the 70% recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Recently, queues and agglomerations were registered at bank and lottery agencies to withdraw the benefit offered by the federal government.

Municipal Health Secretary of Recife, Jailson Correia says that relaxation worries. “Recife has also participated in this debate (about lockdown)”, he said. “There are strategies aimed at operating surgically in neighborhoods where there is less adhesion, with reinforced inspection and educational work, but naturally there is a limit.”

In the capital, 73 of the 94 ICU beds are occupied by patients with coronavirus. “We are not ruling out any other necessary measures at the moment,” said Correia. “Any measure that is put into practice depends on uniformity of thought, coordinated with all the federative entities.”

Also according to the health authorities, both the state and the capital are considering making masks on the streets mandatory. At the moment, practice is only a recommendation.

Scientists have suggested to the government ‘partial lockdown’

Since last week, with the bed occupancy rate above 90%, groups of scientists from Pernambuco have suggested to the government that the quarantine should be hardened. In meetings held to discuss panoramas of the crisis with health officials, the researchers advocate the application of “partial lockdown”.

“In other countries, there was a radical closure, with the Armed Forces on the streets and people being fined for leaving home, but the social and economic reality is incompatible with ours,” said José Luiz de Lima Filho, director of the Immunopathology Keizo Asami (Lika), from the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), state.

“Making the total blockade in Recife would be extremely difficult and could cause a popular revolt, with a much worse effect”, said the researcher. “But we need to reduce the number of cars and buses on the streets, to build barricades to reduce travel between regions: all of this is possible,” he said.

For Lima Filho, recent agglomerations and the loosening of social isolation have had a direct impact on the increase in cases, especially in Recife. “Today, we are at great risk of collapsing in the health care system,” he said. “If we do something more rigid now, we will win ahead with the faster social opening.”

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