Brazil’s President Bolsonaro says he wants coronavirus lockdown measures scrapped this week after he appeared at anti-quarantine protest
- Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus as a ‘little cold’ and opposed lockdown
- But regional leaders in Brazil’s 27 states have imposed lockdowns against his will
- Bolsonaro caused further anger by appearing at an anti-quarantine gathering
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has today demanded an end to the coronavirus lockdown which much of the country has imposed against his will.
Speaking to supporters in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said he hoped the measures would end this week – even though the peak of the epidemic may be weeks away.
Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus as a ‘little cold’ and bemoaned the damage to Brazil’s economy, but many regional leaders have ignored him and imposed their own quarantine measures.
The 65-year-old caused further anger yesterday by appearing at an anti-quarantine protest and savaging the lockdown in a speech to supporters which was interrupted by his own coughing.
Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro appears at a protest in Brasilia yesterday, speaking to supporters who were protesting against the quarantine
Despite Bolsonaro’s protests, many of Brazil’s regional governors have more or less shut down their states in recent weeks.
The outbreak in Brazil appears to be a few weeks behind those in Europe and the US, meaning those governors are unlikely to end their lockdowns just yet.
‘What a few mayors and governors are doing is a crime. They’re destroying Brazil,’ Bolsonaro has said.
Bolsonaro has also clashed with his own health officials, firing his popular health minister last week after they clashed over social distancing measures.
On Friday, Bolsonaro cast doubt on the state of Sao Paulo’s official death toll from the outbreak, the highest in the country, accusing the governor of manipulating the numbers for political ends.
‘I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life,’ Bolsonaro said in a television interview.
Rio de Janeiro’s state health secretary Edmar Santos says the peak of the outbreak will hit Rio in May, which would be a ‘very, very complicated’ time.
Bolsonaro coughs during a speech to supporters in Brasilia yesterday, in which he attacked the social distancing measures that much of the country has imposed against his will
Santos, who has himself been diagnosed with Covid-19 along with governor Wilson Witzel, said the curve in Rio was not yet flattening despite the measures.
‘At the beginning of May the red light will come on for the health system,’ he said.
Brazil has more virus cases than any other country in Latin America. On Sunday, confirmed cases rose to 38,654 with 2,462 deaths.
Yesterday Bolsonaro made an appearance at a protest in front of the army headquarters in Brasilia, which was controversial in itself because of his open admiration for the 1964-85 military dictatorship.
Some of the audience held up posters declaring ‘Military intervention with Bolsonaro’.
Bolsonaro, who was not wearing a face mask, addressed a crowd of a few hundred in a brief address which was punctuated by his own coughing.
The president called those in attendance ‘patriots’ and said they were helping defend individual freedoms that he said are under threat by lockdowns.
‘I am here because I believe in you. You are here because you believe in Brazil,’ said Bolsonaro, a former army captain.
Critics said Bolsonaro had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and called the protest ‘frightening’.