AN overflowing cemetery in Brazil is digging up 1,000 skeletons to make room for more Covid victims.
The shocking mass exhumation comes as the South American country is on course to have the world’s highest coronavirus death toll – soaring past 325,000 victims.
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Aerial view of gravediggers’ exhumations at Vila Nova Cachoeirinha cemetery, BrazilCredit: Reuters
A gravedigger wearing a protective suit hands a bag to another workerCredit: Reuters
More items being removed from deep within the burial ground, BrazilCredit: Reuters
In ghoulish pics, gravediggers have been snapped deep within the graves of Sao Paulo’s Vila New Cachoeirinha cemetery.
Donned in protective white hazmat suits, they’ve been busy tearing open the tombs of people buried years ago, and bagging decomposed remains for removal to another location.
Even more eerily, in the Vila Formosa cemetery – Brazil’s biggest cemetery, in Sao Paulo – workers in masks and full protective gear have been unearthing rows of graves under flood lights and a full moon this week.
Brazil’s biggest city on Thursday sped up efforts to empty the old graves, making room for the growing number of Covid victims.
Sao Paulo city hall registered record daily burials this week – as the country of 212million people saw the bug kill more than 66,000 people in March alone.
On Wednesday, Brazil’s health ministry registered its highest daily Covid-19 death toll for the second day in a row, with 3,869 people succumbing to the virus. This followed previous highs of Tuesday’s 3,780 fatalities, and 3,650 deaths recorded last Friday.
Brazil’s outbreak is the second-deadliest in the world after the US, averaging about 3,000 deaths and 75,500 new cases per day over the past week – a rate that has climbed steadily since February.
Sao Paulo has also resorted to late-night burials to keep up with demand, with some cemeteries authorised to stay open until 10pm.
The city registered 419 burials on Tuesday alone, the most since the pandemic began.
Cases continue to rocket in Brazil
The death toll in Brazil has gone past 325,000 already, as of March 31, 2021
Masked relatives gathered near the grave during the burialCredit: AP
Sao Paulo has also resorted to late-night burials to keep up with demandCredit: AP
Some cemeteries are authorised to stay open until 10pm to keep pace with the Covid deathsCredit: AP
Cemetery workers lower the coffin of a Covid victim into his grave at the Vila Formosa cemeteryCredit: AP
But, gravediggers are struggling to keep up with demand, and if burials continue at this pace, city bosses warn that more contingency measures will be needed – without clarifying their plans.
Brazil currently accounts for about a quarter of Covid daily deaths worldwide, more than any other country.
Infectious disease experts warn that it will only get worse, given President Jair Bolsonaro’s attacks on efforts to restrict movement and a slow rollout of jabs.
A number of states in Brazil are in critical condition, and hospitals are overwhelmed by the pandemic, World Health Organisation epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove told a briefing on Thursday.
She said that many hospital intensive care units are more than 90 per cent full.
“Indeed there is a very serious situation going on in Brazil right now, where we have a number of states in critical condition,” added the expert.
An excavator opens graves on the last piece of land as new burials are suspended, except private deposits and children, at Vila Nova Cachoeirinha cemeteryCredit: Reuters
Aerial view of the exhumations at the Sao Paulo cemetery, March 2021Credit: Reuters
South America has been hard hit by a new pandemic wave with Brazil at its epicenterCredit: Reuters
Sao Paulo exhumes old graves to make space for surging Covid burialsCredit: Reuters
Health experts are warning that the nation is on the verge of even greater calamity.
Spikes of daily deaths could soon hit 4,000, they say.
Yet Covid-denying President Jair Bolsonaro remains unconvinced of any need for clampdown – cruelly telling people in March to “stop whining”, adding: “How long are you going to keep crying about it?”
This is despite a more contagious variant rampaging across Brazil, which is proving to be more deadly in young people.
In early March, an expert warned that Brazil’s out-of-control Covid outbreak risks spawning even deadlier strains that “could force the world back into lockdown” despite jabs.
Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis slammed Brazil as a “virus breeding ground”.
He condemned the president for failing to protect people from the disease, saying the far-right leader had allowed the country to serve as “an open-air laboratory for the virus to… eventually create more lethal mutations”.
The record number of fatalities comes as hospitals are already on the brink of collapse as the mutant P1 strain causes a second wave much deadlier than the first.
The health system in Sao Paulo could collapse in days if Covid hospitalisations continue to soar at the current rate, G1 adds.
Brazilian governors have desperately tried to cobble together a lockdown plan to help curb the deadly Covid outbreak.
They have tried to introduce a curfew, ban crowded events, and limit the hours non-essential services can operate.
Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched a scathing attack on President Jair BolsonaroCredit: EPA
Bolsonaro speaks with navy commander Ilques Barbosa JuniorCredit: AFP
But anti-masker Bolsonaro has refused to impose a national lockdown or acknowledge the severity of the crippling situation.
“I won’t decree it,” Bolsonaro declared.
Given the soaring death toll, and his lack of compassion – or leadership – Brazil’s death toll has been slammed as “genocide“.
Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched a scathing attack on Bolsonaro last Friday, saying Brazil’s Covid death toll amounts to the “biggest genocide” in the country’s history.
“On Tuesday, 3,158 people died of Covid in Brazil. It’s the biggest genocide in our history,” Lula told Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly, adding that Bolsonaro had lied to the Brazilian people about the pandemic.
He previously blasted Bolsonaro’s “moronic” and “uncivilised” handling of the crisis.
Bolsonaro is now in crisis after the country’s army, navy and air force chiefs all quit.
Edson Leal Pujol, Ilques Barbosa and Antonio Carlos Bermudez all resigned just a day after Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo also quit.
Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva then did the same, forcing Bolsonaro into an emergency cabinet reshuffle.
Danilo Maksud, a cardiologist from São Paulo, said ICUs in the state are 89 per cent full with more than 11,000 Covid patients.
“It’s not chaos – we’re well beyond chaos,” he told The Guardian.
Brazil has become the global epicentre of Covid deaths