When an 80-year-old woman collapsed last week in the streets of the Brazilian capital’s poorest and most populous suburb, she was rushed to hospital and put on a ventilator, neighbours told local media.
But this was not just any suspected COVID-19 case.
Maria Aparecida Ferreira is the grandmother of Brazilian first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, who grew up in Ceilandia, a sprawling, dusty satellite city that has become a hot spot for coronavirus contagion around Brasilia.
The modernistic capital was the first big Brazilian city to adopt social distancing measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in March and was weathering the crisis well, until the lifting of quarantine rules triggered a surge in cases, health experts say.
Among the city’s spate of high-profile patients is President Jair Bolsonaro himself, who said on Tuesday he tested positive for the novel coronavirus after running a fever. In an online video on Thursday, Bolsonaro, who said he was working from home, again reiterated his position that economic crisis from the pandemic would be more dangerous than the virus itself.