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"For the love of God, send us oxygen": Brazilian Catholic leaders call for help to battle covid-19 strain

Catholic Bishops and Sisters in Brazil are pledging for help to fight against the newest recorded variant of Covid-19 registered in the northern city of Manaus.

The Archbishop of Manaus, Most Rev Dom Leonardo Steiner has called on the international community for urgent support. 

"We, bishops of Amazonas and Roraima, make an appeal: for the love of God, send us oxygen. The population cannot continue to die for lack of oxygen and beds in the ICUs.

"Let us leave behind the arguing, the denial. Let us leave behind politics which divides and corrupts. Let us leave behind profiting from the pandemic," Archbishop Dom said. 

The new Brazilian Covid-19 variant is thought to interfere with the current vaccines, which is the main reason for concern. Experts detected the new variant circulating in the north of Brazil in December. 

This has led the UK to close its borders to travellers arriving from South America. 

Speaking to UK aid agency CAFOD, Sister Irene from the Brazilian organisation REPAM who works alongside communities throughout the Brazilian Amazon, said the situation is "dramatic" as many people are dying without having even had access to medical assistance. 

"It breaks my heart to witness this avoidable chaos."

"We all know the importance of political will in tackling big challenges - as history has shown so many times - and once again, the poorest are in the worst situation. They depend solely and exclusively on the public health service which is operating above capacity in terms of beds, oxygen, and personnel," Sister Irene said. 

Brazil currently ranks second in the world in the number of deaths for coronavirus, with 200,000. The second wave in the country has already surpassed the first one. So far in Brazil, there have been 8.5 million confirmed cases. 

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