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As coronavirus cases spread across Brazil, indigenous communities in the remote Amazon rainforest are fearing the worst. Already struggling with the impact of deforestation and land encroachment, the virus is yet another threat to their survival.
At the same time malnutrition, the presence of other diseases and a lack of access to health care could mean such tribes are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, say health workers.
Now indigenous groups are urging officials to expel from their lands outsiders who could introduce the disease.
“We are demanding immediate removal of all intruders, miners, loggers, poachers, drug traffickers, land grabbers, missionaries and tourists who can be vectors of transmission,” said Nara Baré, head of the umbrella group Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon.
Indigenous tribes have already seen their communities ravaged by imported diseases in the past.
The first European settlers introduced smallpox, while in the last century measles, malaria and influenza have all taken their toll.