Top Brazil court authorizes investigation of health minister

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian Supreme Court justice on Monday authorized an investigation of Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello to determine whether he is criminally responsible for the COVID-19 crisis in the Amazonian city of Manaus.

The largest city in Brazil’s vast rainforest region was slammed this month by a severe second wave of infections, and jam-packed hospitals ran out of oxygen. Patients’ family members searched for tanks to keep their loved ones breathing, and dozens died asphyxiated.

Brazil’s Prosecutor-general Augusto Aras asked the court to greenlight the investigation, citing a document that said the health ministry knew of dwindling oxygen stocks in Manaus hospitals on Jan. 8, but didn’t start dispatching extra supplies until four days later. Brazil’s air force began evacuating patients to other states on Jan. 15.

Justice Ricardo Lewandowski in his decision authorized the federal police to begin the investigation, and conclude within 60 days.

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