Uruguay began this Monday 15 to apply the vaccine against Covid-19 to citizens aged 50 to 70, of dual Brazilian and Uruguayan nationality and residing in the five urban areas on the border with Brazil – all located on the border with Rio Grande do Sul.
The vaccines, however, are only intended for residents of the Uruguayan part, having a fixed residence, or people who work in the country but live in Brazilian cities.
The Rio Grande do Sul is in a critical situation. The capital, Porto Alegre, faces maximum capacity in all of its intensive care units. A container had to be installed at Moinhos de Vento hospital, the city’s largest private hospital, to house the bodies of coronavirus victims.
In another large medical center, Hospital da Restinga and Extremo Sul de Porto Alegre, on the outskirts of the municipality, patients stand in the hallways, standing and next to oxygen cylinders, due to the capacity.
According to the Uruguayan Ministry of Health, 30,000 doses have been sent to municipalities on the border with Brazil, and the directive is not to leave “vaccines in the refrigerator”. The Uruguayan government has allocated some of the remaining vaccines from other parts of the country to boost vaccination at the border, trying to protect the country from the threat of new variants, such as P1, which originated in Manaus.
The Brazilian situation worries the Uruguayan government. As of Monday, the country recorded 72,862 confirmed cases and only 717 deaths. Even with low numbers, Uruguay is facing the worst time of the pandemic: the moving average of 1,171 new cases of infection per day is the highest on record in the country.
Among the five Uruguayan provinces bordering Rio Grande do Sul, the most affected is Rivera, where there were 837 active cases of the disease in this second, against 427 in the Brazilian city of Sant’Ana do Livramento. The two cities share the same urban area and are separated only by streets and squares, where the movement of people is free. In addition to Rivera, there are also cities bordering Brazil in the provinces of Cerro Largo, Artigas, Rocha and Treinta y Tres.
Brazilian journalist Marcelo Barboza Rodriguez, 26, of Uruguayan nationality since 1997, lives in Rivera and was vaccinated last Thursday (12). He joined the priority vaccination group for people aged 18 to 59 due to comorbidities – he is asthmatic and obese. “It was very peaceful. I programmed the vaccine by application, overnight, ”he said.
Her father, Raúl Barboza, 66, was vaccinated the next day because he works in a medical services cooperative in Rivera. He, who is also Brazilian, has Uruguayan nationality because he has lived in the country since the age of five. People with such baggage are known in the region as “doble-chapas”. The journalist’s mother, Reila, is the only Uruguayan in the family and was vaccinated on Monday.
Brazilian Gislaine Rodriguez also has dual nationality, but is not entitled to the vaccine because she lives in Brazil and does not have a working relationship in Uruguay. “I’m trying to book, but border residents will only get a vaccine if there are doses left,” he said.
In addition to Rivera, the provinces of Cerro Largo and Artigas are ranked in red on Uruguay’s risk map – the highest in the country. The provinces of Rocha and Treinta y Tres received the orange color.
Early Monday afternoon, Uruguay received an additional 1.56 million doses of Chinese Sinovac, maker of Coronavac. The government has also announced the purchase of 2 million vaccines from Pfizer, which has already delivered 50,000 doses intended exclusively for healthcare professionals.
By Wednesday (17), the country expects to have reached the mark of 270,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19.