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Mihail Krastanov: Brazil is at risk of becoming the second Italy for COVID-19

No Bulgarians living in Brazil were infected with coronavirus, but our compatriots there are quite worried

Sao Paolo
Photo: wikipwdia.org

Brazil had an incredible chance, because COVID-19 reached this country later. Unfortunately, it has missed this chance. In the beginning, no measures were taken, because the government underestimated the situation. Now it is taking a series of measures to deal with the infection, but they were adopted too late, Bulgarian Mihail Krastanov who has lived in Brazil for years and founded the first Bulgarian school in South America told Radio Bulgaria.

Mr Krastanov explained that Brazilian emigrants or tourists who are returning from Italy are spreading the new coronavirus across this country.  These people are not placed under quarantine, although they are coming from high-risk countries. The first 15 people diagnosed with COVID-19 returned to the South American country from such high-risk countries.  Currently, all schools are closed. The cultural events were cancelled and postponed. Only food shops, pharmacies and banks are still open. People study or work from home where it is possible.

Currently, a total of 529 cases of COVID-19 are registered in Brazil. Over 350 of them are in Sao Paolo - one of the Brazilian cities with biggest Bulgarian community, followed by Rio de Janeiro and Manaus. According to data of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nearly 3,000 Bulgarians live in Brazil at present, but perhaps their real number is much bigger.

The Bulgarian weekend school in Brazil headed by Mihail Krastanov has also shifted to work and studies from home:

We have enough experience in online education, but we have never practiced this type of education with everyone and now we are facing a big challenge. The Bulgarian diasporein Brazil consists of intelligent people. Many people work in the art field. Others are lecturers in local universities. Now, they are staying at home and do not allow even their children to go out.

Our compatriots are also worried by the fact that unlike Bulgaria, where strict distance control on the clients in the shops and the pharmacies was introduced, no such measures have been adopted in Brazil. The homeless people are another problem in the biggest country in South America. They stroll the busiest places and beg for money and food. If COVID-19 is brought to Brazil’s favelas (the low and middle-income neighborhoods in this country),where buildings are side by side and look like a puzzle, all people living there will get infected within one or two days, Mihail Krastanov contends. In his view, there is a real risk that the country will become Italy of South America or things may get even worse. We are now only in the beginning of the crisis and the number of people affected already by this infection is perhaps higher than the number of cases of COVID-19 registered until now. I hope I am wrong, but Brazil is facing a major obstacle, Mihail forecasts.

In his words, no Bulgarian nationals have been infected with COVID-19 in Brazil yet. However, the forthcoming health crisis is associated with future economic problems and the Bulgarians in Brazil are very worried of such outcome.

Our compatriots are worried, because the crisis is almost here. In the past one or two weeks, the local currency has depreciated against the American dollar and prices of items have gone up. From this point of view, the Bulgarian diaspora in Brazil is quite worried, Mihail Krastanov said.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: courtesy of Mihail Krastanov

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