There are fears remote indigenous communities could be decimated by the coronavirus after a doctor working with an Amazon tribe was confirmed to have the disease.
The doctor had been working with the Tikunas, a tribe of more than 30,000 people who live in the upper Amazon near Brazil’s borders with Colombia and Peru.
Brazil’s health ministry said the doctor, who has not been named, had returned to the tribe on 18 March after a vacation.
He had no symptoms at that stage and had been wearing protective gear, including a face mask.
After developing a fever that day, he isolated himself and was confirmed as having COVID-19 a week later.
Eight members of the tribe have been isolated in their homes and are being monitored, the health ministry said.
It is the first known case of the virus being in an indigenous village, sparking fears it could prove especially lethal for Brazil’s 850,000 indigenous people.
Many tribe members have weak immune systems due to diseases such as hepatitis B and diabetes, while a third of deaths among Brazil’s indigenous people are caused by respiratory illnesses.
COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Smallpox and the flu are among the diseases that have devastated such tribes and, more recently, the 2016 H1N1 epidemic killed hundreds of people from Brazil’s Guaran tribe.
Their close and communal style of living also means isolation is difficult for anyone with symptoms of a contagious disease.