Sao Paulo extends quarantine through May

In an indication the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage parts of Brazil, the governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, announced on Friday the extension of the COVID-19 quarantine in the state through the end of the month.

“As governor of Sao Paulo, I would like to give you different news, but the scenario is bleak. We will have to extend the quarantine until May 31,”he said at a news conference.

A plan to gradually reopen stores and allow people to move about more freely was announced on April 22, provided there was a drop in the number of confirmed cases, large-scale testing of people, social isolation and enough beds in the health system. None of the criteria, however, was met.

More than 10,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, most of them in Sao Paulo. On Friday, the governor declared an official period of mourning in the state in memory of the victims.

Doria also spoke about the possibility of extending the lockdown if measures continue to be ignored by the population. 

Official government monitoring indicates the quarantine adherence rate was followed by 47% of the people in the last three days, below the required minimum of 55%. 

Nearly 90% of the intensive care unit beds in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo are already occupied.

“We do not rule out any other more restrictive measure. We are not proposing a lockdown, but it is not ruled out. We hope this does not have to be practiced, but it will depend a lot on the citizens response to the quarantine," Doria said.

The announcement was met with frustration from many business leaders and industry sectors waiting for commercial activities to resume.

The quarantine extension is contrary to what Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been pushing since the beginning of the pandemic. The president met with business people this week to pressure the Supreme Court to end social isolation and resume economic activities.

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