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Indigenous Brazilians of the Marubo ethnic group wait to see doctors from the Brazilian Armed Forces medical team at a health post in Amazonas state. Credit: Evaristo Sa / AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil’s isolated indigenous communities, which have little or no contact with the outside world, face a serious threat from Covid-19 – and advocates accuse the government of failing to protect these vulnerable groups.

The virus has already killed a member of the Marubo and a member of the indigenous Tikuna people living in the remote Javari Valley, and more than 450 people have been infected, according to the Brazilian government.

“The situation in the Javari Valley is critical,” said Douglas Rodrigues, a physician who has worked with recently contacted indigenous groups for the past 40 years. “We are preparing for a disaster,” he told CNN.

Overall, some 800,000 indigenous people live in villages across Brazil. The largest concentration of isolated communities is in the Javari Valley, an area the size of Austria, located in the southwest of the state of Amazonas, near the border with Peru.

In March, when the coronavirus was first reported in Brazil, a government agency responsible for indigenous affairs said it would ban entry into the valley so foreigners could not spread the virus.

But that didn’t happen, say the lawyers.

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