Hospitals in Brazil are running dangerously low on medicine to sedate a surge of increasingly ill coronavirus patients, health-care workers and officials said.
The already hard-hit South American nation is suffering from a new wave of infections driven by a more transmissible variant known as P.1 that was first identified in the city of Manaus.
Brazil’s health minister said Thursday that authorities were in talks with Spain and other countries to secure the drugs, Reuters reported. At hospitals in Rio de Janeiro, reports surfaced of health-care workers being forced to intubate patients without sedatives, according to the Associated Press.
Staff at the Albert Schweitzer municipal hospital have been using neuromuscular blockers and tying patients to their beds, the AP quoted a local doctor as saying.
“Some try to talk, resist. They’re conscious,” the doctor, who agreed to discuss the sensitive situation only if not quoted by name, told the AP.
Another ICU doctor in Rio de Janeiro told Reuters that he had never experienced another situation like this in his 20-year career.
“Using mechanical restraints without sedatives is bad practice,” said the doctor, Aureo do Carmo Filho. “The patient is submitted to a form of torture.”
The alarming reports came as the Paris-based organization Doctors Without Borders on Thursday released a statement about the Brazilian government’s response to the pandemic. The country has reported more than 361,000 deaths out of some 13.6 million confirmed infections.
“More than 12 months into Brazil’s covid-19 emergency, there is still no effective, centralized and coordinated public health response to the outbreak,” Doctors Without Borders said. “The lack of political will to adequately respond to the pandemic is killing Brazilians in their thousands.”