RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – When the Taji virus attacked and tourists stopped coming to the Rio de Janeiro Favela tour in Thiago Firmino, he decided to act. Unwilling to await the reaction of officials, he wore a white coat and began to cleanse the slums of Santa Marta.
Residents are filling the Tiago Firmino reservoir to continue clearing the impoverished Santa Marta hall during a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 10, 2020. Reuters / Ricardo Moraes
After seeing terror with the virus spreading around the world, Firmino, 39, launched a scheme to clean up San Marta favela.
Firmino, dressed as “Ghostbuster”, heads the latest in a growing number of community-led programs to fight the spread of the virus that many hope to cause chaos in Brazil’s dense slums in Brazil.
“I wouldn’t call it heroic, but we have a fierce situation,” Firmino said when he stopped spraying stairs and back alleys of Santa Marta amid applause from the trapped residents.
“Favela is always forgotten. Whatever happens in the city, Favela is always the last to receive any benefit. Health services are crucial, hygiene issues and public waste are also crucial.”
About 4,000 people live in Santa Marta, one of the most famous slums in Rio.
Located behind the Botafogo neighborhood overlooking the sea, the hotel offers stunning views of the Sugar Loaf Mountain and even a statue of Michael Jackson, who recorded a video clip for his song “They Don’t Care About Us” in Santa Marta.
Firmino’s wife, Welside Miranda, said that until now there had been no known cases of COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the Coronal Novel virus, in slums.
She and her husband depend on community contributions for sanitation.
“Tourism is the first to stop and the last to return,” Firmino said. “We take this voluntary action with the residents so that we can take care of ourselves, because I prefer to be without work than to be without my life.”
This week, authorities reported the first six deaths from the Coronavirus in Rio Favela, which is often controlled by drug gangs and harsh military militias.
Last month, Reuters reported that gangsters imposed a curfew in some of the city’s slums to combat the spread of the corona virus.
Brazilian Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandita said on Wednesday that he will speak with gangsters who act as realistic governors of slums about how best to deal with the virus.
“They are also human beings and they need cooperation, assistance and participation,” he said.
1,057 people have so far died from COVID-19 in Brazil, with 6,638 cases confirmed, according to the latest official figures on Friday. The figures indicate that about 150 people have died in the state of Rio, where there are 2464 cases.
Edited by Gabriel Stargardter and Alistair Bell
Our standard: the Thomson Reuters Trust principles.
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