The public prosecutor of brazil announced the opening of an investigation on suspicion of endangerment of the indigenous Yanomami and Yekwana, who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 during a mission in the military.
According to the federal prosecutor’s office (MPF), this mission, which took place on 30 June and 1 July in the State of Roraima (north), in the presence of journalists from a dozen media outlets, including the AFP, may have taken place without prior authorisation of aboriginal peoples and in violation of the rules of distance physical.
This official investigation, announced late Thursday, was prompted by a complaint from a Junior Yanomami, president of the Board of health for the indigenous Yanomami (Condisi-Y).
“The natives isolated are extremely vulnerable to the external pathogens, this is why the contact (members of the mission) could be considered a crime against the public health,” he said in his complaint.
Junior Yanomami has also expressed its concern about the distribution during the mission are of chloroquine tablets, ” whose effectiveness against the coronavirus has never been proven “.
In Brazil, its use is, however, recommended by the department, including to treat mild symptoms of the COVID-19, subject to an agreement between the physician and the patient.
This mission with three indigenous communities near the venezuelan border was officially for the purpose of prevention against the virus, with the distribution of protective equipment, rapid tests for screening and medication, of which 16 000 tablets of chloroquine. All the tests carried out in the villages have been negative.
The team of the AFP, as the twenty-odd journalists on the spot, had to pass tests for the detection of the COVID-19 just before the start and strictly adhered to on-the-spot the rules of detachment and physical port of the mask, like all the journalists of the AFP to ensure their safety, such as those of the people with whom they are in contact.
The minister of Defence, Fernando Azevedo, who came to observe the mission Wednesday, and was assured that the expansion of the pandemic among the natives was ” controlled “.
A statement disputed by several associations, such as the Council of Indigenous Roraima (CIR).
“Mr. minister, it is we who live this reality on a daily basis! The COVID-19 is spreading more and more every day in the indigenous communities and we are concerned about it, ” responded the CIR in a press release.
Junior Yanomami told AFP that 160 members of the yanomami people had been infected with the coronavirus, that four of them were dead, not to mention three other suspicious deaths.
The vice-admiral Carlos Chagas, a spokesperson for the ministry of Defence, has declared on Friday to journalists that the complaint seemed ” totally irrational “.
“That surprises me, for several reasons. How an organization concerned about the fate of the natives may object to the presence of persons who came to treat the natives? “, he asked.
The territory of the yanomami, which stretches over 96 000 km2 in the middle of amazon forest, is regularly invaded by gold-diggers illegal immigrants, whose presence represents an increased risk during the pandemic.