- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 among a Brazilian indigenous population was confirmed Wednesday, igniting fears that the new coronavirus that causes that disease can devastate vulnerable populations in remote locations.

The health ministry’s special branch for indigenous people announced a 19-year-old female health worker tested positive for COVID-19 in the Santo Antonio do Içá district along its northwestern border with Colombia, after visiting several other local villages.

“Unfortunately, we have an indigenous person with the virus,” a health ministry spokesperson told Reuters.

Experts fear that certain cultural rituals could fuel the highly contagious virus among 850,000 indigenous people who have long steered clear of global health crises including smallpox and the flu.

The latest case marks the fourth confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the same remote region — deep in the Amazon rainforest — after a Brazilian doctor tested positive last week.

Brazil has been the hardest-hit country in South America by the coronavirus, with 5,916 confirmed cases, 206 deaths and 127 recoveries, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

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