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Brazil indigenous chief Raoni set for hospital release

Raoni Metuktire, a chief of the Kayapo people in northern Brazil, is an iconic defender of the Amazon rainforest who is in his 90s
Raoni Metuktire, a chief of the Kayapo people in northern Brazil, is an iconic defender of the Amazon rainforest who is in his 90s CARL DE SOUZA AFP/File
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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Brazil's best-known indigenous leader, chief Raoni Metuktire, is improving and expected to be released soon from hospital after a health scare, doctors said Monday.

Raoni, an iconic defender of the Amazon rainforest who is in his 90s, has been diagnosed with two gastric ulcers and an intestinal infection, his medical team at the Dois Pinheiros hospital in the state of Mato Grosso said.

But "his clinical condition is improving," they said in their latest update.

"He is expected to be released from the hospital soon."

Raoni, a chief of the Kayapo people in northern Brazil, was hospitalized Thursday for weakness, shortness of breath and diarrhea.

He was first taken to a hospital in the small town of Colider before being transferred Saturday to Dois Pinheiros, a larger hospital in the city of Sinop, when his condition deteriorated.

Raoni's health began to decline after he lost his wife of more than 60 years, Bekwyjka, who died in June after a stroke.

Known for his colorful feather headdresses and the large disc inserted in his lower lip, Raoni has traveled the world raising awareness of the threat posed by destruction of the Amazon.

Doctor Fernanda Quinelato said he had received two blood transfusions.

"His general health is good, he is lucid, with controlled blood pressure and no fever," she said in the statement.

A test for the new coronavirus came back negative.

The virus has hit Brazil's indigenous communities hard. It claimed the life of another top indigenous leader, Paulinho Paiakan, last month.

Another of Brazil's best-known indigenous leaders, chief Aritana Yawalapiti, 71, is in serious condition with suspected COVID-19, his son told AFP Monday.

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