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Brazil's fight against Covid-19 hampered by flooding and favela growth

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By Mark Armstrong with AP
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Brazil's fight against Covid-19 hampered by flooding and favela growth
Copyright  Andre Penner/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Efforts to vaccinate people in the remote Amazonas state in Brazil are being badly hampered by flooding.

Anama is a municipality home to 14,000 people on a tributary of the Solimoes River, which flows toward the capital of Manaus.

It is just one of dozens of towns in the Amazonas state that have recently seen life upended by floods due to higher-than-average rainfall.

Health workers have been forced to take to boats to deliver vaccines to vulnerable residents who have been stranded by the deluge.

"Today," nurse Tayline Bastos told Euronews,"we are going house to house with vaccines for influenza and against COVID. We're are vaccinating people aged 18 to 59 with chronic conditions."

The flooding has also led to the suspension of a mass vaccination effort aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 in remote areas of the vast state.

Pandemic deepens poverty

Brazil has been battered by COVID-19 in both its remote, underdeveloped regions and cities where crowded neighbourhoods and poverty often go hand in hand.

New favelas are sprouting up in Sao Paulo, built and lived in by recently-unemployed workers like Giovani de Souza, who lost his former jobs and home in the coronavirus pandemic.

Now living in the Penha Brasil favela, he said: "Everyone ended up being fired. Without a job, I couldn't pay my rent. I was evicted from where I was and found the solution here; I built my small shack and I'm now living here."

Giovani's story is far from uncommon. Former saleswoman Jessica Costa also lost her job and consequently, her home. She has now moved to the same favela.

"We decided to come here," she said, "because with only one person working it's not possible [to make rent], with two small children, one aged four and the other two. Things got tough and we had to come here. But, I used to work before, too."

There appears to be no let-up in the pandemic in Brazil even as vaccination drives get under way. The latest figures showed over 67,000 new infections registered in the previous 24 hours, while the country's officially-recorded death toll now stands at over 430,000.