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COVID-19 increasingly hitting younger Brazilians, study finds

Younger Brazilians are increasingly being affected by COVID-19, with those in their 20s showing the greatest increase in deaths so far this year, according to a report published by government biomedical institute Fiocruz on Friday.

Adults in their 20s show greatest rise in deaths so far this year

A doctor treats 34-year-old COVID-19 patient Everton Barbosa Godoy at the emergency unit of a field hospital in Ribeirao Pires, in the Sao Paulo area, Brazil, on April 13. COVID-19 deaths among those 30 to 39 rose 819 per cent this year, according to one study. (Andre Penner/The Associated Press)

Younger Brazilians are increasingly being affected by COVID-19, with those in their 20s showing the greatest increase in deaths so far this year, according to a report published by government biomedical institute Fiocruz on Friday.

It found that the number of COVID-19 deaths among people between the ages of 20 and 29 jumped more than 1,000 per cent between the start of this year — before Brazil's vaccination campaign began — and the first half of April.

Deaths among those 30 to 39 rose 819 per cent, while fatalities among the 40- to 49-year-old group jumped 933 per cent, the study found.

Brazil has been badly hit by the pandemic this year, with a slow vaccine rollout, patchy nationwide restrictions and a highly contagious new virus variant known as the P1 driving new infections.

Fiocruz said the rise in younger deaths could possibly be explained by a relaxing of restrictions, or a general "exhaustion of confinement."

"The need to return to face-to-face work or search for ways of subsistence, given the deepening economic crisis and unemployment rates," may also be a factor, it said.

A man prays clutching a statue of Saint George, on the feast day of the saint associated with bravery and resistance, in Rio de Janeiro before sunrise on Friday. (Silvia Izquierdo/The Associated Press)

Like Brazil, Canada and several other countries are seeing a rise in new more transmissible virus variants and have reported that younger people are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 hospitalizations, unlike early in the pandemic when the elderly were hardest hit.

According to the study, the average age of hospitalized patients was now about 58, compared with 62 at the start of the year. The average age of those who died from the disease had dropped to about 65, versus 72 in January, it said.

The study showed that the situation in Brazil remains grave. 

Fourteen states and the Federal District have intensive care unite occupancy rates above 90 per cent, while seven states are at levels of between 80 per cent and 89 per cent, it found. 

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