Intense traffic expands the list of risk signs for COVID-19 in BH – Gerais


Movement of vehicles in the late afternoon on Avenida Antnio Carlos: volumes of this month are the largest recorded since the beginning of the pandemic in the capital of Minas Gerais
(photo: Tlio Santos / EM / DA Press)

A strong acceleration in the traffic of vehicles in Belo Horizonte as a reflection of less and less adherence to actions of commuting expands the concern at a time when the capital, Grande BH and the Central Region of Minas experienced increases in contamination rates by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). With an eye on the indicators of the disease, the mayor of the capital of Minas Gerais, Alexandre Kalil (PSD), met yesterday afternoon with the Committee to Confront the Epidemic of COVID-19 to discuss the increase in cases in the past few weeks.

Belo Horizonte registered 1,580 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths between the bulletin released on Tuesday last week (17) and the report published yesterday (25). Between yesterday and Monday alone, there were 245 new registrations and eight deaths. The advice of the municipal administration confirmed that, today, the city hall will hold a press conference. The Secretary of State for Health of Minas Gerais (SES-MG), in turn, says that it is not yet possible to say whether there are fluctuations in the COVID-19 indexes in the region, still at a low level, or if there is a growth trend sustained.

Vehicle volume thermometer in the region, application application indicators trnsito Waze found that November was the month with the most movement since the pandemic, exceeding the volume of congestion in October by 14.4% and 5.3% in August, reopening months, in which consumption exploded, but later settled. According to the application numbers, in the first 18 days of November, the average of congestion in Belo Horizonte rose to 85% of the volume of vehicles held in March, before the pandemic. The month that had registered the highest intensity was August, with 81%, falling in September to 73.84% and in October to 74.26%.

In the past week, news has been received with great concern that the rinconcito across (Rt) of the coronavirus in the capital had reached 1.13, that is, each group of 100 infected people was taking the disease to another 113. The moderate risk limit is an Rt of 1. Yesterday, the index was at 1.08, but, despite the decline, it remained above the risk limit considered moderate, which goes up to 1.

Hospital occupancy also increased by around 10 percentage points, jumping from levels around 30% of capacity to almost 40% of beds in wards and ICUs in one week. This has all been frightening, especially since it is added to the reports of intensivists pointing out the increase in the occupancy of ICUs and patients on mechanical ventilation in the region.

Altogether, the capital of Minas Gerais has 53,115 positive diagnoses for the disease, including 1,622 patients who died from the disease. In yesterday’s bulletin, what attracted the most attention was the increase in bed occupancy. According to the report, 40.4% of intensive care places were occupied, while the same rate was 38.1% in nursing units. On Friday, the numbers were at 37% and 34.2%. On Tuesday of last week, the indexes were 33.5% and 30.7%, respectively. Despite the increase, the two parameters remain in the controlled phase, below 50%. The municipality considers the SUS and supplementary network in the index.


“There was a change in the epidemiological profile (in the Central and Grande BH regions). We have seen a change in behavior in society and this change can also impact the change in the behavioral profile of the epidemic ”, observes Sade’s Secretary of State, Carlos Eduardo Amaral, referring to the removal of the guard in relation to protective measures, such as removal. “Right now, (the regions) are still on the green wave (from the program Conscious Mines, which is the least restrictive stage). But it is essential that everyone take care, use masks, alcohol gel and distance yourself. First (for city halls and secretariats that need to step back and restrict activities more) we guided the return of Minas Consciente ”, said Amaral. “In general, we do not have any indication of cases exploding, but of the need to be careful”, he summarizes.

Traffic on Avenida Afonso Pena (photo: Tlio Santos / EM / DA Press)

One of the reflexes of this less distant behavior is seen in traffic. According to data from Waze, in BH, with 49% of a normal movement before the pandemic, only Monday registered a lower average of congestion than August (58.6%), September (49.5%) and October ( 50.75%). On the other days of the week, the amount of cars, motorcycles and trucks held on the roads exceeded the volumes observed for the same periods in all other months since the beginning of the pandemic. On Sundays, the index is 136.3%, which means that the volume of traffic exceeded that of the pre-pandemic period – before March 16 – by 36.3 percentage points.

A member of the COVID-19 Coping Committee in Belo Horizonte, the president of the Sociedade Mineira de Infectologia, Estevo Urbano, warns that the pandemic has not yet been controlled and that exaggerations may even make the situation go beyond acceptable limits. “Relaxation in sanitary measures, exaggerated exits, wearing the mask inappropriately and crowds, especially by young people in bars and parties. This is all due to the flexibility, the holidays and the false sense of security that many people have today, exactly because the numbers have dropped, ”he says. BHTrans informs that the traffic numbers are among the general information and criteria evaluated by the COVID-19 Coping Committee of BH.

Secretary Carlos Eduardo Amaral highlighted actions that were implemented in this phase of the epidemic. “There is a clear guideline for the entire health network for tracking close contact with people with symptoms, monitoring who has had contact and instructing. All mild cases of flu-like syndrome are being tested, in regions and outbreak sites we do the tests, in pregnant women and ICU patients as well ”, he quotes.

Acceleration on election day

(photo: EM Art)
(photo: EM Art)

The elections and the commitment to vote made the 15th of November the busiest day since the beginning of the pandemic, with a congestion record of 78% above the regular month of March in pre-pandemic days, that is, of the computed volumes until the 16th of that month. The two busiest days were June 14th, the first Sunday after the second announcement of flexibility in activities, with 55% in addition to the normal pre-pandemic movement, and June 21, with 20.7% more. As of the following Sunday, 28, with the announcement of regression of the critical statistics of cases, sick, dead and lack of beds, the movement weakened and stood at 74.7% of that verified before the pandemic.

The Belo Horizonte’s patience with social withdrawal seems to fade on weekends, when the movement receives a significant increase. Saturdays, which with the March pandemic had 28% of regular movement, hit an average of 94% in November. Sunday is the day when social isolation is least respected. In March, after the departure, the average concentration of cars dropped to 42% of normal. In April, it climbed to 45.25%, jumped to 58.4% in May and in June it only represents 89%, rising in November to 94% of what would be a common day, that is, practically returning to levels before the COVID-19.

The series of vehicle monitoring by the Waze application started on March 16, the date on which the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in BH. Classes were suspended on the 18th and the movement of vehicles fell dramatically, plummeting 69.85% on Friday, March 20, when the state public calamity decree (Decree 47.891 / 20) was published. The month of April recorded the lowest concentrations of vehicles.

The least busy day in March, at the beginning of isolation, was Friday, with 22% of the intensity of pre-pandemic traffic jams. In April, the average of Tuesdays managed to reach the lowest concentration of all days of the week, with 15.5% of the usual. The day with the least movement was April 10, a Friday, with 9.91% of the normal movement in the city, a day after the municipal decree came into force that suspended the operating permit for establishments considered essential, such as nightclubs, parties and events houses, fairs, exhibitions and establishments dedicated to leisure. (MP)

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