APIB Alert # 02 Covid-19 and indigenous peoples
Saturday April 18, 2020

The seventh death of an indigenous person by Covid-19 is confirmed. A 67-year-old Tuxaua (chief) of the Satere Maué people died yesterday (April 17, 2020), in Maués county, in the State of Amazonas. The Federal Government only counts 3 indigenous people having died so far from the new coronavirus, however. This is due to the fact that the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai), of the Ministry of Health, does not provide care or registration of indigenous people who don’t reside in villages.

We, at APIB, repudiate this policy and demand the immediate withdrawal of Ordinance 070/2004, to ensure SESAI assistance to all indigenous people, whether they live in their villages or not. This is an action of institutional racism which makes indigenous people living in urban areas invisible and leaves them neglected. We are indigenous people whether we live inside or outside our territories. We are extremely vulnerable, and there is a real risk that the new virus will cause another genocide.

To date, 28 indigenous people are among suspected cases and await test results. Another 27 have tested positive for Covid-19. The vast majority of confirmed cases are in the state of Amazonas, which has already declared the collapse of its hospital system due to the increase of coronavirus cases. We are receiving daily reports on the lack of quick tests being used for indigenous people across Brazil, which leads us to believe that the published data is underreported.

We stand in solidarity with the families and peoples of our indigenous relatives who have passed away. These are not numbers, they are lives. We will continue fighting for the protection of indigenous peoples.