This aerial photo shows an alleged coronavirus victim being buried at the Vila Formosa Cemetery, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 22.This aerial photo shows an alleged coronavirus victim being buried at the Vila Formosa Cemetery, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 22. Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

In Brazil’s largest and most badly infected city, coronavirus has yet to peak, yet already the healthcare system is crumbling. As doctors struggle valiantly to save lives, the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro seems more focused on his country’s economy.

Brazil this week became the country with the second most infections worldwide after the United States, with more than 330,000 confirmed cases.

But Bolsonaro, who once dismissed Covid-19 as a “little flu,” has urged businesses to reopen, despite many governors stressing social isolation measures to slow the spread.

In the huge intensive care unit (ICU) of Emilio Ribas Infectious Disease Institute in São Paulo, anger swirls among doctors when asked about their president’s comments.

“Revolting,” says one.

“Irrelevant” declares another.

Dr. Jacques Sztajnbok is more restrained.

“It’s not a flu. It’s the worst thing we have ever faced in our professional lives,” Sztajnbok said.

The reasons why are clear inside the overwhelming silence of the intensive care unit. Coronavirus kills behind the veil of a hospital curtain, in a stifling quiet, that is so distant and alien to the global upheaval and noisy political divisions it has inspired. But when it takes a life, it is intimately horrifying.

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