- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the risk of the virus, and compared the new coronavirus to a "little flu."
- Bruno Covas warned that Sao Paulo's health system may collapse within two weeks.
- The United States has pledged more than $3 million to help Brazil.
Brazil briefly became the country with the third-highest number of new coronavirus infections in the world Wednesday, with a total of more than 275,000 confirmed cases. Only the United States, Russia, and, once again, Spain, are top of Brazil. Experts say that insufficient testing may mean that the actual cases in Brazil are 1.5 times higher.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the risk of the virus, and compared the new coronavirus to a “little flu.” His handling of the outbreak, including calls for state governors to lift their lockdown measures, sparked criticism, and led to the resignation of Health Minister Nelson Teich last week.
Teich’s predecessor, Luiz Mandetta, was fired for disagreement with the president on measures to maintain social distance. However, Bolsonaro focused his efforts on reducing the impact of the epidemic on the economy, which was supported by many people. Supporters organized rallies against the lockdowns, and the president also participated in some of them.
How Bad is the Outbreak in Brazil?
At present, more than 275,000 cases have been diagnosed in Brazil. More than 18,000 patients have died of the new coronavirus, ranking sixth in the world. Bruno Covas, the mayor of Sao Paulo, warned that Sao Paulo’s health system may collapse within two weeks.
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a population of approximately 12 million. Officials said that most residents did not maintain social distance. More than 3,000 people in São Paulo have died of the new coronavirus.
It is not only the city center that was severely affected by the epidemic. As of Monday, there were nearly 21,000 confirmed cases in Amazonia. The medical system in Manaus, the state capital, is already overwhelmed.
How does the President handle the Crisis?
President Bolsonaro has always opposed the lockdowns, arguing that they will harm the national economy. In March, he delivered a speech calling on the mayor and the governor to remove restrictions. “Our lives must continue, we must keep our jobs, we must return to normal.”
Bolsonaro referred to the “scorched earth” policy of closing businesses and schools, and restricting public transportation. Despite the rapid rise in infection rates, Bolsonaro believes that most people, including himself, feel nothing to be afraid of the virus.
“Based on my experience as an athlete, if I am infected with the virus, there is no reason to worry. I can’t feel anything. Perhaps at most, it’s just small flu,” he said.
US donates the $3 million to help Brazil fight Covid-19
By May 1, the US Embassy had already announced a donation of $950,000, a resource that focuses on socio-economic support. This is the second time that the US has channeled resources to help Brazil fight the pandemic.
The government of the United States announced the donation of approximately $3 million (R$ 17 million) to Brazil to assist in public health emergency response to the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
The donation will be made through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which maintains collaborations with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation ( Fiocruz ) and the Ministry of Health.
The announcement of the donation was made by the US embassy in Brazil. According to a spokesperson, the resources will be used to “improve the detection and tracking of cases, in the identification of transmission areas, in the control of outbreaks and in the provision of data for a safe reopening in Brazil.”
The second donation, announced May 1, will focus on socioeconomic support for vulnerable populations. According to the embassy, the funds donated through the CDC
“Will strengthen Brazil’s emergency operations, supporting 79 emergency operation centers, one national center, 27 state-owned, 26 in the capitals and 25 in the municipalities with more than 500,000 inhabitants, in addition to providing members of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) with training and workshops on integrating emergency management systems, RRT management, and Public Health Emergency Management.”
In a note, the US embassy adds that the resources will improve the community and border health, as well as support emergency operations centers and laboratories in 13 border counties. In addition, they will strengthen capacity among partner countries, aiming at the detection and care of sick individuals at borders and during their travels.