posted on 09/22/2020 06:00 / updated on 09/22/2020 08:23
(credit: Marcelo Ferreira / CB / DA Press – 9/21/20)
Yesterday, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo took stock of Operation Covid-19, which has been mobilizing more than 34,000 military personnel, in addition to the entire logistical apparatus of the Armed Forces. According to the general, only air travel to serve the population with inputs and materials against the new coronavirus, there are 20 laps on the planet. In an interview with mail, the minister confirms figures that give an idea of the involvement of the Army Navy and Air Force: 6,200 decontamination in public places; 11 thousand shares in the border bands; assembly of about 2,500 sorting posts; creation of 4.8 sanitary barriers; 6,722 population awareness campaigns; and 33,000 blood donations. All of this without neglecting the fundamental attributions of the FAs, including that of joining the fight against fire outbreaks in the Amazon and the Pantanal.
What are the Defense’s actions to combat the covid-19?
The Armed Forces – Ministry of Defense, Navy, Army and Air Force – contributed a lot to government actions to contain the coronavirus. We started with the rescue of the Brazilians in Wuhan (China), when the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) went with its aircraft to bring the Brazilians here, and we did a period of confinement at the Anápolis Air Base (GO). It was the first operation in Brazil for the covid-19. In these six months, the air effort, assisting in the transport of material and personnel, corresponds to 20 rounds on the planet. We helped with more than 6,200 decontamination in public places and 11,000 actions in the border areas. We set up approximately 2,500 screening stations, 4.8 sanitary barriers; we carried out 6,722 population awareness campaigns and 33,000 blood donations. More than 15,000 men and women were trained by the Armed Forces. We produced more than 620 thousand masks, and about 25 thousand liters of alcohol gel were distributed, in addition to more than 1 million food kits. In total, we transport 22,200 tons of cargo by land and 780 tons by air.
What do these data translate into in terms of coping with covid?
More than 30 thousand men are employed in Operation Covid-19 per day, in the 10 joint commands spread throughout Brazil. In the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB), for the 2nd World War, we have 25 thousand men. So, this is our biggest effort, a contribution that the Armed Forces make to the Brazilian population. To this end, the funds were released through two bills, with amounts transferred to the Defense, around R $ 200 million.
In the front line of action, the military also becomes more susceptible to infection. Are the rates high?
We are working on Operation Covid-19 with more than 30,000 troops. We had around 20 thousand infected, of which 18 thousand are recovered, that is, about 90%. Unfortunately, of our active personnel, 32 died. It’s a low number.
The performance of the Armed Forces goes far beyond the covid-19. How to guarantee the continuity of other operations to guarantee the protection of land, sea, air, and environment borders?
We do not stop our operations, we adapt them. We have several ongoing: Operation Verde Brasil 2; we are helping to fight the fire in the Pantanal; we have Operation Pipa, which distributes water in the Northeast; Operation Welcomed, which receives refugees. The normal activities of the forces have not stopped. The training of officers and officers continues, the protection of the border strip, which is our responsibility. As a maritime authority, the Navy did not stop because of Operation Covid-19, and the control of 22 million square kilometers of airspace is an Air Force task. This is a constant of our day to day. Operations are additional efforts. But it is important to note that we have not stopped our main mission, as provided for in the Constitution and in complementary laws.
We are experiencing a dramatic moment in our biomes. Amid the high demand of the Operation, there is an urgent need for assistance in fighting fires in the Pantanal and in the Amazon. Are efforts sufficient for both priorities?
This is not just a matter of Defense. We are in a context of effort that President Jair Bolsonaro has made, appointing Vice President Hamilton Mourão to head the Amazon Council, which is part of several bodies. We are now experiencing the worst drought, hot spot, of the past 30 years. So, the situation deserves an effort not only by the Armed Forces, but also by all bodies linked to the environment, both from the federal, state and municipal governments. It is a difficult period that adds to the confrontation of the covid.
In the midst of all these demands from the Armed Forces, there was an expectation that the amount of Defense, provided for in the Budget Law Project, would be greater than areas such as Education. After the repercussion, this was not confirmed. Did the amount match the need?
It is not true that the defense budget would be greater than that of education. It never happened, nor would it ever happen. These are two important things. Our level of resources is divided into mandatory expenses, plus the payment of personnel, which consumes 90% of the annual budget. The remaining 10% is for discretionary expenses on education, ammunition, water, electricity, projects. That 10% is really not enough. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 we remained at the same level of discretionary expenses. It is not ideal, but it is possible in relation to Defense. That’s what we’re going to adapt to. We have the advantage that these resources are not being contingent. So, we have a forecast of full use of the resources approved in the LOA.
One of the great demands within the scope of the covid, which put Defense in the spotlight, was the responsibility for the production of chloroquine. Do we maintain a large stock after instruction from the federal government to increase production?
The Army’s chemical and pharmaceutical laboratory makes chloroquine normally. We had two purchases this year. But, of course, everything was done according to standard and normal procedures, within the law. Chloroquine is being used by the military at the request of the Ministry of Health. The first batch is over and we have the second.
With the donation of chloroquine from the United States, is there a risk of wasting the medicine and, therefore, public money?
If it is not taken advantage of by the Ministry of Health, we will take advantage of the diseases to which the Army normally distributes. There is absolutely no chance that the medication will expire.
MP extends temporary contract
Yesterday, the Chamber approved a provisional measure that authorized the Ministry of Health to extend the contracts of 3,592 health professionals due to the covid-19 pandemic. The text must now pass the Senate. These professionals are temporary and work in six federal hospitals in the State of Rio do Janeiro.
The rapporteur, deputy Luiz Antonio Teixeira (PP-RJ), determined that the contracts made from 2018 can be extended until the end of this year (December 31), instead of November 30, as provided by the text edited by the government in May. In yesterday’s balance, 377 more deaths and 13,439 cases were recorded, adding, since the beginning of the pandemic, 137,272 lives lost and 4,558,068 infections by the new coronavirus.
Brazil sees that most of its states add up to more than a thousand deaths each. São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the only units of the Federation with more than 10,000 deaths: 33,984 and 17,727, respectively. Next are Ceará (8,834), Pernambuco (8,016), Minas Gerais (6,727), Pará (6,468), Bahia (6,313), Rio Grande do Sul (4,409), Goiás (4,164), Paraná (4,146), Paraná (3,964) ), Maranhão (3,664), Espírito Santo (3,432), Mato Grosso (3,245), Federal District (3,097), Paraíba (2,719), Santa Catarina (2,656), Rio Grande do Norte (2,353), Piauí (2,038), Alagoas (2,024), Sergipe (1,987), Rondônia (1,305) and Mato Grosso do Sul (1,179).