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THE communist-run Brazilian state of Maranhao has brought much-needed ventilators from China via Ethiopia in a “war operation” against coronavirus.
Governor Flavio Dino bought more than 100 of the artificial respiration machines for the north-eastern state but, fearing that they would be confiscated en route by the United States or Brazil’s federal government, he had them sent by sea to Ethiopia for onward shipment.
The shipment, which also included 200,000 masks, arrived last week in Sao Paolo, where, instead of passing through customs, it was immediately loaded onto a chartered plane to fly the 3,000 miles north to Maranhao.
This stratagem was prompted by fears that, if secrecy was not maintained, the goods could be seized by the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Previous attempts to buy the medical supplies had reportedly been hampered by Germany, the US and the federal authorities.
“If we didn’t do it that way, it would take us three months to get this number of ventilators,” said Maranhao’s Secretary of Industry and Commerce Simplicio Araujo.
Governors in Brazil’s nine north-eastern states have formed an alliance to tackle Covid-19 in the face of Mr Bolsonaro’s disastrous response to the crisis.
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