26 September 2023

BRAZIL: Virus just a measly cold — President

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (pictured) has engaged in a war of words with Governors and Mayors of Brazil’s largest States and cities branding them as “criminals” for imposing lockdowns to slow the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mr Bolsonaro, who often takes his lead from United States President Donald Trump, claimed other viruses had killed many more than COVID-19 “and there wasn’t all this commotion”.

“What a few Mayors and Governors are doing is a crime,” Mr Bolsonaro said.

“They’re destroying Brazil,” he said.

“Ninety per cent of us will have no symptoms if contaminated.”

“Personally, my history as an athlete would mean I would suffer at the most a little flu, if contaminated.”

“COVID-19 is no more than a measly cold.”

He is also at odds with his own Minister for Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta who has warned the outbreak could trigger a collapse of the healthcare system within a month.

The two have been at odds since Mr Bolsonaro flouted guidelines and physically greeted supporters on 15 March.

Governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria said Mr Bolsonaro was not setting an example for Brazilians and appealed for him to “lead the nation, not divide it” at a time of crisis.

The country’s top medical associations issued statements in support of Mr Mandetta’s approach to dealing with the pandemic, amid fears that the Minister might resign from the job.

However, at a news conference Mr Mandetta denied that he was quitting, stressed the gravity of the pandemic and the need to keep up the drive to isolate the population from the virus.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Economy said the Ministry would not sacrifice long-term debt targets in order to rescue the economy.

“There is no capacity for huge fiscal packages to fight the Coronavirus crisis,” the spokesperson said.

Brasilia, 27 March 2020

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