Brazil has surpassed 1 million threshold of confirmed COVID-19 cases and has now 48,954 deaths, setting a grim record in South American continent. The health ministry on Friday recorded 54,771 new cases as the record daily spike took the tally to 1,032,913. The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t look to slow down as major cities are lifting the restrictions in a bid to reopen the economy. Many experts believe that with the lifting of social distancing measures, Brazil may soon beat US to become the disease leader. Despite the alarming circumstances country’s Premier Jair Bolsonaro looks to belittle the threats posed by pandemic by raising questions on the role of WHO and accusing his adversaries of trying to disrepute his government.
The false concept of immunity
Brazil, at first seemed oblivious to the outbreak as it wreaked havoc on China, Italy and USA. Mr. Bolsonaro impervious by the impacts of the disease casually agreed to repatriate the Brazilians in the country fearing the minority would put the lives of majority back home at risk.
The maiden case in the country was registered on Feb 26, 2020. The person traced was believed to be an isolated case and that he arrived in Sao Paulo from Italy with the infection. A month later, COVID-19 cases in the country had reached 3,000 tally and fatalities count was at 77.
At that time Bolsonaro first compared the disease to a “little flu” and falsely suggested that his nation was immune to the deadly virus.
“Brazilians don’t catch anything, they already have the antibodies to keep it from spreading,” the President made a firm statement.
He in another press conference on March 26 once again implied and reiterated the fact that his countrymen are an impervious force and will not be hurt by the novel coronavirus as he talked to the media outside the Alvorada Presidential residence in Brasilia.
“Brazilians should be studied, we don’t catch anything. You see people jumping in sewage, diving in it and nothing happens to them,” he boasted. He during the same presser added that many Brazilians are already positive for the virus but they had “the antibodies that would help coronavirus not spread.”
Bolsonaro’s fight against Social Distancing
With cases surging across the country it was evident that country would soon become a new hotbed of the virus. Confirmed cases exceeded 15,000 and over 800 deaths were recorded. Trashing the warnings from health authorities, the unmasked Bolsonaro was seen hugging his supporters at a local bakery. The President believed that social distancing and quarantine in the major economic hubs such as Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro would bring more harm than virus itself and the economic dent would be much harder than corona pandemic.
“The issue of unemployment, the issue of the economy no longer working. We can’t let the side-effect of the fight against the virus be more harmful than the disease itself,” Bolsonaro said.
He frequently locked horns with governors and mayors of some of the hardest hit areas and ultimately settled with the sacking of Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta on April 16 as he advocated for locking down non-essential businesses, schools, shops and markets.
On the next weekend, Bolsonaro participated in an anti-lockdown rally in Brasilia with a bare face where he coughed multiple times and shook hands with his supporters. Opposition leaders criticized the demonstrations as anti-democratic after signs calling for dissolving of Supreme Court and Congress were spotted in the rally.
Threats to World Health Organization
Earlier in June, WHO urged the nations to enforce the practice of wearing fabric masks in public.
“WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmissions and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments,” WHO Director-Genera Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for the action while addressing the media on June 5, 2020.
Bolsonaro threatened to leave WHO on the same day and accused the organization of “ideological bias.”
“The United States left the WHO. We are considering that that also. Either the organization works without ideological bias, or we leave it too,” Bolsonaro told reporters. “We don’t need foreign people having a say in our health here.”
Bolsonaro accelerated his attacks on the WHO recently as he blamed the organization for trying to drag his country into an economic recession.
“The so-called WHO, wants us to follow them blindly. First, they say that asymptomatic people cannot transmit the virus then they go back on their comment. It seems like there is something more serious behind all that, they want our countries to go broke,” Bolsonaro lashed out at the organization in a presser outside the Alvorada residence last Wednesday.
“The amount of economic problems this is going to cause will be huge, to the point of leaving Brazil broke,” he said, repeating his consistent claim that the economic cost would be much higher than the health.