Sao Paulo, Brazil – Nicole Martins was hoping her mother, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 last month, was fine. But when the 24-year-old arrived at the hospital, the expression on his father’s face confirmed his deep fears.
“I thought he was coming out,” Martins told Al Jazeera. “But then I arrived and saw my father crying.”
Martins is one of hundreds of families in Brazil who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 since the coronavirus began to spread across the country like wildfire.
On Thursday South America surpassed 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths, the second world number after the United States. More than half of them were registered in 2021, with April being the most dangerous month since the epidemic began.
Experts point out a number of reasons for the recent disruption, including the variability of the P1 virus, fatigue and preventative measures such as obstruction, and the gradual release of vaccines.
“With 50% of the deaths from COVID occurring this year, it shows that the problem is under control again,” Jesem Orellana, an infectious disease patient at the Fiocruz medical research center on the Amazonian headquarters in Manaus, told Al Jazeera.
Manaus is where P1 was first diagnosed and in January patients died in their beds in disarray due to shortness of breath.
President Jail Bolsonaro, who lives in the far right of Brazil, after responding to the crisis, which included showing the severity of the disease and doubting masks and vaccines, has been criticized by health experts around the world.
Senate Committee opened an investigation this week how the government is dealing with the epidemic.
“We have suffered a lot here with the opportunity to get more information and false news, if the virus is a little cold,” said Andre Ferreira, regional leader of Brigada Pela Vida (Life Brigade), an NGO that operates COVID-19 in poor areas across Sao Paulo.
Meanwhile, thousands of families continue to grieve every day when their loved ones die.
In the low-income Sao Paulo area of Fazenda da Juta, where the Martins family lives, more than five people died of coronavirus on the same street in March, including Martins’ mother.
Thalia Novaes, a 61-year-old man who fought for 30 days and was transferred to three hospitals before his death in March. Like many citizens, he was buried in the nearby cemetery of Vila Formosa Cemetery, the largest in Latin America, where there have been lines of people who want to be buried.
Novaes told Al Jazeera: “We can’t bury him as we want.” “There were 12 people in the past.”
The huge increase in demand prompted government officials to set up generators and generators for funerals. He also buried graves and in the minds of those who had buried his body.
“It’s hard to see how many people are upset,” said James Gomes, who has been at the cemetery for eight years.
The economic crisis in Brazil, one of the most unequal countries in the world, continues to be a major choice among those killed by coronavirus.
The death toll from the 100,000 people in Sao Paulo district in Sapopemba, in Fazenda da Juta, is three times higher than in the city of Pinheiros, according to a study published earlier this year in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
“Of all the methods a person can use or learn carefully, it is the most difficult for the poor,” said Marcelo Neri, an economist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Brazil.
Returning to Fazenda da Juta, Martins said his father had struggled to cope with the death of his mother.
Martins still lives on the floor of his parents’ home, which happens to many families in Brazil, especially in low-income areas, and said he is trying to remember the best days.
“They just invite me to things they need, such as garlic, which they forget to be available in stores,” Martins says of his mother. “I missed those phones now.”