posted on 03/31/2021 18:17
(credit: Carlos Vieira / CB / DA Press)
Moderate, technical and organized. Thus, the new army commander, General Paulo Sérgio, is defined by colleagues. He was a military commander in the North and has expertise in the Amazon area, both in logistics and border security and health. Respected in the military, Paulo Sérgio was, until now, at the forefront of actions to combat the covid-19 pandemic within the ground force.
The difficult task of facing the greatest public health challenge of the century was given to the general in March last year, when Brazil registered the first cases of the disease, which was already spreading in Europe and challenging China. An interview with the mail, published last Sunday (3/28), was the trigger for the crisis between the government and the military.
Paulo Sérgio highlighted the actions to combat the disease, adopting measures totally opposed to those put into practice by the federal government. Under the general’s management, the Army’s General Personnel Department (GDP) established massive campaigns for the use of masks, distance, isolation, mass testing and hand hygiene.
The result was a mortality rate of 0.13% in strength. In the general population, mortality is 2.5%. In military hospitals, the medications used are based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). Conversely, the Ministry of Health adopted a protocol endorsing the use of drugs without scientific proof against the disease, such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
Under the management of Paulo Sérgio, these drugs can only be used in consensus between doctor and patient, and the patient must sign a term of responsibility recognizing the risks of using drugs without efficiency against the disease. The choice of officer to command a contingent of 220,000 military personnel represents a retreat from President Jair Bolsonaro and greater influence by the Armed Forces in the government.
The chief executive decided to dismiss then-minister Fernando Azevedo after reading the interview and showing discontent with the statements. Then the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force were dismissed.
Forecasting and testing
In the interview published by mail, General Paulo Sérgio highlighted the sanitary measures adopted by force, and the success in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. “The numbers are relatively good in relation to the general population, due to the prevention we have. The lethality rate is very low, lower than in the public network, thanks to this awareness, this understanding, which is what I think , if it improved in Brazil, probably, the number of contaminated would be much smaller “, said Paulo Sérgio.
He explained that the measures are necessary to contain the transmission, as the health system is not able to serve the population, military or civilian, if everyone gets sick at the same time. “We started the covid operation with 84 ICU beds in the entire network. As a result of equipment purchased and transformation of the hospital structure, we reached 280 ICU beds in the entire military network. There are public hospitals in São Paulo, those big ones, which have 280 beds. So, it is a very restricted network, which barely serves the Force itself. We even have agreements with the private network, which we call civilian health organizations “, he added.
Paulo Sérgio also explained that the country is in a serious situation, and pointed out that the Army can act in the adoption of sanitary measures, such as the closing of roads to prevent the movement of people. “We have highly trained military organizations in the area of chemical and biological defense. We have trained more than 5,000 military personnel in Brazil in decontamination. Today, all of our barracks have a platoon of 30 men, for example, trained. It is very common the image of that group of hooded soldiers, in airports, ports, public squares. In Belém, I set up the patrol of the bus stop, with a protected team, appropriate equipment, and went out on the avenue at night to disinfect “, he said.
Finally, the general said that the second wave of the pandemic is bringing greater challenges, greater impact and casualties, but that there is already concern about a third wave of the disease. “When we learned that France and Germany are starting a new lockdown with this third wave, we imagine that, as in the second, which starts in Europe, two months later it spreads to other continents. We have to be prepared in Brazil. work, improve the physical structure of our hospitals, have more beds, human resources so that, if there is a stronger wave, we will be able to react “, he added.
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