Criminal gangs in several of Rio-de-Janeiro's favelas, including Rio das Pedras, Muzema and Tijuquinha, have sent messages to locals demanding that they stay inside after 8 p.m. to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to Globo. Their messages reportedly claim the gangs want the best for the people and that they are doing what the government should have done but is purportedly failing to do.
Gangs in the Rio de Janeiro favelas have enforced a lockdown from 8pm tonight. The statement reads: "If the government won't do the right thing, organised crime will" pic.twitter.com/dK0wtAR3KA— Andrew Cesare (@AndrewCesare) March 23, 2020
The government of Brazil restricted the use of public transport, but a curfew has not been imposed. Earlier, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called the COVID-19 outbreak a 'media trick', causing rage in social media.
Favelas in Brazil are the poorest areas of the city. According to Buenos Aires Times, problems with water supplies and sanitary control make residents of these areas particularly vulnerable amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The irony is that the disease was brought to Brazil by plane, by the rich, but it is among the poor that it will explode," said Paulo Buss, director of the centre for international relations at Fiocruz, a benchmark public health research centre, cited by Buenos Aires Times.
According to Johns Hopkins University data on the coronavirus outbreak, the current number of confirmed cases in Brazil is 1,980, with 34 fatalities and 2 recovered.