Brazil’s top football clubs are handing over their stadiums for health authorities to turn them into field hospitals and clinics to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Monday morning, Brazil has 1,546 confirmed infections and 25 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
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With football in the country suspended until further notice, more than half of the 20 teams in Brazil’s Serie A have given up their stadiums as authorities in densely populated Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro seek to expand hospital capacity to deal with the crisis.
Current South American champions Flamengo also confirmed it is giving control of their famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro to health authorities.
“In this grim moment, I wanted to invite our great Red and Black nation to renew hope and work for better days. Let us take care of our elders, help those who need it most,” club president Rodolfo Landim wrote in a message to supporters.
Authorities in Sao Paulo – Brazil’s biggest city – said they would install 200 beds in a field hospital at the Pacaembu municipal stadium to relieve pressure on the city’s hospitals, while two of the city’s big clubs were also lending a hand.
Corinthians Paulista said they have made their Itaquerao stadium and their training headquarters available “so that the authorities can evaluate how they can be used to combat the spread of the disease”.
Santos announced that a temporary clinic would be set up in one of the lounges inside its Vila Belmiro stadium.
On Friday, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta predicted the virus would reach its peak in the country between April and June, anticipating a drop in COVID-19 infections from September.
Mandetta warned the health system in the country of 210 million people could reach saturation by the end of April.