Indigenous Brazilians launch coronavirus tracing app

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SAO PAULO, Sept 5, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Indigenous and environmental
organizations in Brazil launched an app on Friday aimed at alerting
indigenous communities to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in their
lands.

“The application maps and periodically updates the situation regarding the
pandemic in cities within a 100 kilometer radius of indigenous lands,” said
the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon
(COIAB) and the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) in a joint
statement.

The app, called “Covid-19 Indigenous Alert” aims to help indigenous people
identify areas with high infection rates.

Provided free on the Android system, the app uses data from Brazil’s
health ministry, people working in the indigenous health system, leaders from
indigenous organizations and the COIAB network.

“This collection of information, as well as directing our strategies and
actions to combat Covid-19, has exposed the lack of notification from public
authorities and the serious way in which the new virus affects us,” said
Mario Nicacio Wapichana, the deputy co-ordinator of COIAB.

With four million cases and 125,000 deaths amongst its 212 million
population, Brazil is the worst affected country in the world by the virus
after the United States.

Amongst the 900,000 indigenous people there have been 30,000 infections
and 785 deaths, according to The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil
(APIB.)

“Indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus,
presenting an incidence rate 249 percent higher than the national average and
a 224 percent higher mortality, according to analysis of the registered cases
up to August 28,” said COIAB.

The network said low levels of immunity, the invasion of indigenous land
by outsiders, the introduction of foreign pathogens and a weak health system
“are some of the motives behind such alarming numbers.”

Several high-profile indigenous leaders have died of covid-19.

However, earlier on Friday the 90-year-old iconic chief Raoni Metuktire,
one of the most famous defenders of the Amazon rainforest, was released from
hospital after a week receiving treatment for covid-19.

The leader of the Kayapo people, known for his colorful feather
headdresses and the large disc inserted in his lower lip, has returned to his
territory in Xingu National Park, in the center-west of Brazil.