The coronavirus is ravaging indigenous tribes living in the Amazon rainforest as it sweeps across Brazil.
Brazil has the second-largest outbreak in the world and has reported nearly 1 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 47,700 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins virus dashboard. But while the mortality rate is about 6.4% among the Brazilian population, that number rises to 12.6% among indigenous populations, according to CNN.
By the end of May, there were more than 980 coronavirus cases and 125 COVID-19 related deaths in Brazil’s indigenous populations, according to numbers from the advocacy group Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, CNN reported.
One tribe, the Arara people of the Cachoeira Seca territory, have been particularly hard-hit, with 46% of its 121 people living in the reserve infected, according to Survival International, an organization that advocates for and defends indigenous rights.
“We’re very worried,” an Arara man told Survival International. At the health post that’s near their village, “there is no medicine, no ventilator.” The village itself is located three days away from the city and the nearest hospital, he said.
The Arara tribe was first contacted in 1987, relatively recently in societal history, which makes them particularly vulnerable to outside diseases, according to Survival International. “We’re asking for protection with these coronavirus cases,” the Arara man told Survival international.
From January 2019 to March 2020, the Amazonian land where the Arara and other indigenous groups live has lost more than 8,000 hectares of forest because of illegal invaders and loggers, and is “one of the most deforested areas in the entire biome,” according to a statement from the Federal Public Ministry in the Brazilian state of Pará posted on May 7.
These indigenous groups, made up of roughly 900,000 people, have lived in the rainforest for thousands of years. But Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has said that indigenous people’s lands and cultural rights should be taken away, and they should be integrated into society, according to a previous BBC report.
Originally published on Live Science.