The Brazilian government is seeking to use coronavirus as cover to usher in laws which could lead to increased occupation of indigenous lands and deforestation in the Amazon, campaigners and experts allege, amid warnings that further environmental disruption may lead to new pandemics.
The country has been divided on the severity of Covid-19, with president Jair Bolsonaro dismissing it as “a little flu” and opposing lockdown measures, for which public support is waning, despite mass graves being dug in Sao Paulo in the face of rising fatalities.
While the crisis has seen most industries grind to a standstill, government data suggests deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose 30 per cent in March compared to the same period last year, with the most recent data suggesting the trend has continued in April.
There has also been a reported increase in forays into some indigenous lands by miners and land-grabbers, as both civil and official protection efforts are scaled back for fear of infection.
Against this backdrop, scientists are issuing renewed warnings that ecological disruption can increase the chance of novel infections crossing over to humans – known as “zoonotic” diseases.Independent