Brazil's top court probes health minister's COVID-19 response in Manaus

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski has approved an investigation into Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the northern city of Manaus, according to a court document released on Monday.

Lewandowski granted a petition for the probe by Attorney General Augusto Aras, and gave a period of 60 days for the probe to conclude. Pazuello has five days to give testimony to the federal police, the document shows.

Manaus, in the northern state of Amazonas, has been hit hard by a brutal second wave that has pushed the city’s emergency services to breaking point. The city ran out of oxygen, prompting the federal government to fly in tanks from across the country in order to save people from suffocating to death.

The region is also the birthplace of a new coronavirus variant, with similar mutations to those from Britain and South Africa, that researchers believe is more transmissible and may be paying a role in the dire state the city finds itself in.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy