In a country already hard-hit by the coronavirus, oxygen shortages and soaring Covid-19 cases have pushed Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, into a healthcare crisis. Nurses in the city have been quoted in local news reports as saying patients have died of asphyxiation in the city's hospitals because there is no oxygen to give them.
The Brazilian government has come under sharp criticism over its handling of the crisis. Last week, Supreme Court judge Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the government to present a response plan to solve the oxygen shortage, citing the Jair Bolsonaro administration's "omissive behavior" in addressing the emergency.
On Sunday, Bolsonaro's Solicitor General José Levi do Amaral sent a 16-page report defending the government's response to the court. The report discloses that the federal health ministry knew about the crisis six days before the situation became critical on January 14.
It also stresses that the local government in Amazonas did not inform federal authorities about the looming oxygen shortage. "The Health Ministry...became aware on (January) 8th through an e-mail sent by the product manufacturer," the report states. The provider, named in the report as White Martins, first notified the Amazonas State government, and then federal authorities, the report says.