Brazil confirms first indigenous coronavirus case in Amazon rainforest

Updated: May 19, 2020

Reports of an indigenous woman in a village deep in the Amazon rainforest has contracted the coronavirus has surfaced. This being the first case reported among Brazil's 300 tribes, said the Health Ministry's indigenous health service Sesai on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old woman from the Kokama tribe tested positive for the virus in Santo Antonio do Içá, near the border with Colombia, 880 km (550 miles) up the Amazon river from Manaus.

Four more cases have been confirmed in the same district, including a Brazilian doctor who tested positive last week. This raises fears that the epidemic could spread to remote and vulnerable indigenous communities.

Sesai said the woman was a medical worker who had been in contact with the doctor. She was the only person to test positive among 15 health workers and 12 patients tested after the doctor was found to have the virus, Sesai said.

The doctor had returned from vacation in southern Brazil to work with the Tikunas, one of the largest tribe in the Amazon with more than 30,000 people who live in the upper Amazon near the borders with Colombia and Peru.

The woman has not shown symptoms of Covid-19, but she has been isolated with her family.

Health experts warn that the spreading virus could be lethal for Brazil's 850,000 indigenous people, who have been decimated for centuries by diseases brought by Europeans.

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