SAO PAULO (CNS) – With news that dozens of people suffocated from lack of oxygen at a hospital in the Amazon city of Manaus, Catholic bishops are applying for the provision of essential elements for survival.
“We, the bishops of Amazonas and Roraima, make a plea: For the love of God, send us oxygen,” Archbishop Leonardo Steiner of Manaus said in a video released January 15.
“Give oxygen. People cannot continue to die from lack of oxygen and from lack of beds in the ICU, ”said the archbishop who appeared shaken.
The Archbishop said that during the first wave of COVID-19 in the Amazon region, people died due to lack of information and lack of beds in the Intensive Care Unit. Now, during this second wave, people are dying not only from overcrowded hospitals but from lack of oxygen.
The situation in Manaus made headlines when family members of those in hospital, with COVID-19 and other illnesses, were shown trying desperately to buy oxygen cylinders to save their loved ones.
On January 15, more than 60 premature babies were said to be in danger of dying from lack of oxygen. The oxygen tank provided by the federal government is thought to last only a few days.
Over the weekend of January 16-17, hundreds of patients were flown to other states for treatment as the oxygen supply continued to dwindle.
The request made by Archbishop Steiner, who was general secretary of the Brazilian bishops’ conference between 2011 and 2019, was followed by pleas and pledges of assistance from other Brazilian bishops.
Bishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, president of the bishops’ conference, called on business leaders, businessmen and politicians to offer their help.
“Given the very serious situation in the city of Manaus, it is very important to call on Christians and all sensitive people who face the suffering of others; now is the time to help, “he said.
Retired Bishop Erwin Kräutler, president of the Brazil branch of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, also expressed his support for the bishops’ call for help and asked local and federal governments to provide oxygen cylinders for hospitals in Manaus and the Amazon.
“We saw our brothers and sisters die from suffocation; terrible death, ”said the bishop, known for his work with Indigenous Amazonians.
“It is impossible for Brazil to forget the people of the Amazon at such a cruel time and turn a blind ear to the commotion of those who are dying; and (to) their families and health professionals, who are unable to care for patients due to lack of oxygen and have to watch passively as the patient dies, suffocating from lack of oxygen, in dire conditions, ”said Bishop Kräutler.
“For the love of God and Our Lady: Manaus, Amazon, is (part of) Brazil. Please wake up, for the people who live here and want to survive this pandemic, “he said.
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