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Story Publication logo April 15, 2021

A Breeding Ground for Viruses, the Devastated Part of the Amazon Faces COVID-19, Dengue Fever and Malaria (Portuguese)


View of the facade of the Municipal Hospital of Bandeirantes, Hospital João Carneiro de Mendonça, in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Image by Dasayev Diogo/Shutterstock. Brazil, 2020.

Mato Grosso has experienced mortality rates above the national average and an underdeveloped...

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A bird flock in an area of urban expansion in the city of Sorriso, in the Cerrado of Mato Grosso. The population of Sorriso grew 8.6% in the last five years, according to data from city hall. According to research released by the IBGE, the city is the largest producer of corn and soybeans in Brazil. Image by Rafael Vilela. Brazil, 2020.

The story excerpt below was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit National Geographic. You may also view the story in Portuguese on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Maria began to feel pain in her eyes after her twelfth birthday, on April 22, 2020. It was the height of the restrictive quarantine to contain the spread of COVID-19, established by a decree by the Mato Grosso government on March 16. "Only the most serious patients were coming into the hospital. We didn't take her to the doctor first because of this. Then she got better, but days later she started complaining of intense pain and we went with her to the doctor," said Leni Almeida, the girl's mother.

In four days there were more than three tests that showed the worsening of Maria's clinical condition. "She was sick every night, we went back to the hospital, but nothing could be done on her," says the mother. On April 28, the girl died in the regional hospital of Sorriso, a city 396 kilometers from the capital Cuiabá (MT), waiting for a bed.