Pernambuco is a northeast state of Brazil, with rebellious fame in the country's history. In the past, it was the stage of several conflicts, battles, and even separatist movements. This time, Pernambuco, along with the rest of the world, fights against this new and devasting common enemy, COVID-19.
Following the guidance from the World Health Organization, which recommends social distancing as the best way to prevent the contagion, the State Government made a decree empowering this decision. Walking in the center of Recife, the state's capital, you encounter an odd landscape: empty streets with no commercial activity at all, schools, and universities closed.
To be honest, seeing Recife like this just reminds us of a great iconic Brazilian song called "O dia em que a terra parou" (or so, The day the earth stood still), composed and sung by Raul Seixas.
It was like this, on the day that everyone on the planet decided that no one was going to leave home. As if it were combined, all over the planet, on that day, nobody left home, nobody.
Due to the spread of the coronavirus in Brazil during March, each of the 26 Brazilian states prepared to make their own decisions on how to fight the virus. Looking more carefully at the problem, the State of Pernambuco started on the 22nd of March with the lockdown on activities that are not considered essential. This kind of decision is very complicated to enforce to Brazilians, considering the free mentality that characterizes the population. Despite some social and political groups refusing to take measures, you can really see the difference in the cities.
In Recife, for example, 11 municipal parks and the Boa Viagem Beach will be closed during weekends, as a way to reinforce the isolation. To prevent the population from circumventing the norm, the Municipal Guard and Urban Control will inspect these spaces, along with the enforcement of the prohibition of commercial activity on the entire coast.
Talking to citizens, it is clear that everyone's initial idea of coronavirus being a disease only affecting distant countries is now changing. People are now realizing, almost one month after the lockdown imposed by the government, that this virus is real. The fear of going out to the streets is starting to rise. The fear is fed by the increasing numbers of the infected, and the streets are becoming more and more empty.
The imposed measures for social isolation & distancing appear to be working just in the biggest centers, such as the city center, some neighborhoods at the North Zone of the city, and in Boa Viagem: the location with the highest populational density in the state. However, the impression we have so far is that the people of the suburbs are not taking the problem seriously, and this can be seen by simply taking a walk through these places. Often it is possible to see people walking normally on the streets and gathering with friends. Even amateur football games are still taking place in these communities.
As a result of this behavior, against the government's recommendation, the numbers of the infected people in these communities are increasing fast. The problem could be even bigger, considering that already in mid-April, the ICU capacity of the State was already more than 90% occupied.
In all State of Pernambuco, you can find charity organizations trying their best to fight this threat, by collecting food and provisions to help the neediest people. For them, the problem is even bigger, considering the fact that they need to work to have money to buy food. Although the Brazilian government is helping the most affected people with a monthly allowance, more action is definitely needed. Thinking about this, volunteer groups are being formed to join this beneficial networking and help with donations.
Banco de Alimentos do Sesc collects donations to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign aims to collect resources, basic food baskets, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items, and cleaning supplies to serve 150,000 people at social risk. They are assisted by 400 institutions in Pernambuco.
Samaritanos Recife Is a group of volunteers in Recife who distribute food, clothing and host homeless people.
Rede Igaraçuara de Cuidados: There is also an online fundraising campaign to provide immediate support to 200 families in the city of Igarassu, part of the Metropolitan Region of Recife.
ONG JUNTOS is helping the public hospitals providing them with material to protect the employees in order to fight the virus. They already donated 16,000 medical caps and 320 N-95 to hospitals in Recife.
TETO: This NGO has always done work with the most vulnerable communities and slums, always aiming for social development. But due to the coronavirus, an emergency campaign was created to help families living on the outskirts - mainly because many cannot work, and have no source of income at this time. It is a fundraising campaign and aims to bring basic supplies, water, and cleaning items for around a thousand families in Brazil.
Government of Pernambuco: The Government of Pernambuco has also created a platform to raise funds, food, and hospital equipment to distribute throughout the state. The government's idea is to identify the most vulnerable points in the state and try to help those in need.
These are just a few examples, but I am sure that you can find more ways to help online. Whether it is in Recife, or any other city in Brazil or your country, the important thing is to help the ones in need.
So the message could not be any clearer: Stay at home if you can and help the ones who cannot stay in. Stay safe and good luck wherever you are!
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