- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the coronavirus pandemic appears to be in the same vein as US President Donald Trump’s response to the outbreak.
- Brazil now has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases with more than 310,000 infections.
- Its death toll is over 20,000 and is climbing.
- Bolsonaro has encouraged anti-lockdown protests, touted unproven drugs like hydroxychloroquine, and has a generally dismissive attitude towards the seriousness of the virus.
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Brazil has emerged as a coronavirus hotspot, and President Jair Bolsonaro seems to be taking a page out of US President’s Donald Trump’s playbook to tackle the growing number of cases.
Over the past several days the country’s daily spikes of cases have grown. On Tuesday, the country recorded 1,179 fatalities. On Wednesday, Brazil has the largest spike of cases in 24 hours with close to 20,000 cases, about a fifth of the overall record 106,000 new global cases the World Health Organisation recorded.
The country holds the third-highest number of cases behind the US and Russia, with over 310,000 infections and more than 20,000 deaths.
Vox reported that Bolsonaro mishandled the outbreak from the start by “continuously downplaying the seriousness of the virus, vocally opposed state governors’ decisions to impose lockdown measures, personally attended anti-lockdown protests, and pushed for businesses to reopen despite the growing outbreak.”
In the US, Trump has repeatedly pushed for reopening the country despite expert opinions that doing so would cause a resurgence of cases and ultimately lead to needless death, in the country that already has over 1.5 million infections and over 94,700 deaths.
Trump has repeatedly defended and even couraged anti-lockdown protests even in incidents where governors received death threats. He’s referred to armed protesters as “good people” who were suffering from cabin fever, Business Insider previously reported.
According to The Wall Street Journal, At least 116 nurses have died in Brazil. The Journal added that nurses and other healthcare workers in Brazil often only have access to” ageing equipment and lack enough face shields, goggles, gloves, and gowns to battle a highly contagious disease.”
Brazil has an already overburdened healthcare system, according to Vox, and it is running out the capacity to handle any more cases.
However, that hasn’t changed Bolsonaro’s approach to the issue.
According to the Guardian, when he was asked about the then-record death toll of the day was only 474 deaths on the April 28, Bolsonaro replied: “So what?”
“I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?” he continued.
In the US, Trump has argued that despite case numbers being high, he sees his handling of the virus as a success. He’s also made inaccurate claims that hospitals are inflating their death count, despite experts warning the death count is likely much higher than reported.
According to Aljazeera, Bolsonaro has also touted the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug initially used for malaria, and used to help with lupus and some forms of arthritis. While the drug was initially looked at as a potential remedy for COVID-19, several studies have not proven it effective for treating coronavirus with potential negative side effects, including heart arrhythmia. Other studies are ongoing.
Trump has touted the drug and recently announced that he’d been taking the drug after the White House physician prescribed it to him.
Brazil’s cases and death toll, meanwhile, continue to climb. The country has yet to reach its peak. While some state governors in cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have tightened restrictions, according to Vox, Bolsonaro still seems to not be taking the threat of the virus seriously, which “undercut attempts to control the virus and stymied any chance at a coordinated federal response.”
“We’re in a state of calamity,” Carlos Fortaleza, an epidemiologist at São Paulo State University, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.
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