Men wearing protective suits carried the empty coffin into the small blue-painted house in Manaus, capital of Amazonas state, where Edgar Silva breathed his last on May 12, after two days of fighting for life with a stroke.

`My father did not die of Covid-19,` Eliete das Gracas, Silva’s daughter, confirmed to SOS Funeral staff.

Like many other people who died at home, Mr. Silva was not tested for nCoV.

Relatives hold the body of Luis da Silva, 82 years old, who died at his home in the city of Manaus, on May 10.

Manaus is one of the Covid-19 hot spots in Brazil, the second largest epidemic area in the world with more than 23,500 deaths.

Doctors and psychologists say people’s denial of the cause of death stems from many reasons, including the influence of fake news, lack of understanding, lack of testing and conflicting messages from political leaders.

The first death from nCoV in Manaus was reported on March 25 and since then, the death toll has continuously increased.

Due to the large number of deaths, the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus had to bulldoze a piece of forest to make a mass burial site.

Das Gracas had hoped her father would be able to have a proper funeral, but it was not possible.

Dying and denying Covid-19 in the Amazon capital

People still gathered at a bar in Manaus on May 24.

Not only funeral homes, emergency services in Manaus are also overloaded and facing many risks.

`The thing that surprised me the most is that people believe the pandemic is not real,` he said.

Costa fell ill with nCoV infection in late March and returned to work after recovering.

Many health officials believe that the increasingly serious epidemic and people’s indifferent attitude are due to President Bolsonaro’s response to Covid-19.

He also firmly opposed blockades to prevent Covid-19 like Europe or the US, as he did not want to trade off economic losses.

The Brazilian President also appointed interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, currently an army general, to be responsible for responding to Covid-19 `in the long term`.

Dying and denying Covid-19 in the Amazon capital

SOS Funeral staff transported the deceased’s coffin by boat on the Negro River, near Manaus, on May 14.

Mr. Bolsonaro also supported the use of the anti-malaria drug chloroquine to treat Covid-19.

Governor Wilson Lima, who supports President Bolsonaro, also underestimated the danger of nCoV at first.

On March 23, when Amazonas state recorded 32 cases of infection, Lima ordered the suspension of non-essential services.

Dying and denying Covid-19 in the Amazon capital

Covid-19 devastated the largest city in the Amazon region

The daily work of SOS Funeral staff in Manaus city.

At the end of April, the governor of Lima announced a plan to gradually reopen commercial activities, but faced many protests as the death toll continued to rise.

He also said that the lack of testing kits is the reason why officials cannot know how many people in the state are infected with nCoV.

Poor and crowded residential areas are the hardest hit.

Mr. Lima’s administration attracted a lot of criticism when it spent more than half a million dollars to buy 28 ventilators at a price four times higher than the market price from a wine importer and distributor.

Meanwhile, nCoV has crept into many remote towns and tribes in Amazonas state.

While health experts warn the pandemic is still raging across the Amazon and the rest of the country, national polls show compliance with quarantine and lockdown regulations is falling and more and more people are

`The federal government’s message is always at odds with the science, as well as the measures that states and cities are taking,` said Dr. Adele Benzaken in Manaus.

Dying and denying Covid-19 in the Amazon capital

The collective cemetery for the dead since early April in Manaus was full on May 16.

Fake news about nCoV is also appearing more and more, some information is even shared by President Bolsonaro himself.

A fake claim shared on social media said that the death rate in Manaus dropped sharply the day after the health minister’s visit.

`I think they intentionally create fake news to make money,` Israel Reis, 54, said outside the fish market in Manaus city.

However, Reis, who recently lost his job at an electronics maintenance company because of Covid-19, said he shares the opinion of President Bolsonaro that the severity of the pandemic and the death toll have been exaggerated.

Henrique Noronha, 52 years old, argued with his friend that President Bolsonaro asserted that only people who are elderly and have underlying health conditions need to stay at home.