COVID-19 cases explode in Brazilian schools | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

The beginning of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil has been characterized by a huge increase in cases among teachers, students and school staff. Refuting the claim of the Brazilian and world ruling class that schools are safe, in recent weeks numerous schools across the country have suspended in-person classes and some cities have again mandated the wearing of masks in classrooms.

In May, COVID-19 infections again rose in Brazil. On Saturday, the moving average reached 29,824 daily cases, a 104 percent increase from two weeks ago, and 84 deaths were recorded. These numbers, however, are huge underestimates. In addition to massive under-reporting, 15 of Brazil’s 27 states have not reported pandemic data due to alleged technical problems.

Empty classroom at a Brazilian school (Credit: Brazilian Senate)

“We have never sailed so in the dark,” declared infectologist Fernando Spilki to the daily Folha de S. Paulo. “Very little is tested and registered. Besides, with the [recent] possibility of self-testing… several cases end up not being registered,” he explained.

In what he called a “recipe for disaster,” Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis warned on Twitter on May 26: “This is one of the riskiest moments of the pandemic, basically because all measures to contain the transmission of the virus have been eliminated, the window of immunity created by vaccines is closing, new variants are circulating without barriers.”

In fact, today in Brazil the most infectious and vaccine-resistant BA.2 Omicron subvariant is dominant, but cases of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, responsible for the recent increase in cases in South Africa and Europe, have also been identified. Although it remains mandatory in public transportation and hospitals, the mandate for the use of masks in classrooms and other closed places was abolished in early April in all Brazilian states. Vaccination is stagnant, with 77.4 percent of Brazilians completely immunized and only 44 percent of the population with the booster shot. This situation has led the transmission rate to grow since mid-April, reaching 1.48 on June 1.

It is under these conditions that COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire in Brazilian schools. Far from a surprise, outbreaks in schools are yet another clear confirmation of their role in the spread of COVID-19. And, as has happened before, keeping schools open is driving this fourth wave of the pandemic in Brazil.

However, even with the prospect of a worsening pandemic in the coming weeks, state and municipal governments in Brazil are doing everything they can to make the population “learn to live” with COVID-19. Few cities have restored the mandate for the use of masks in classrooms, even though several scientific studies point out that a simple measure like this can contain up to 80 percent of the transmission of the virus.

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