COVID-19, Bolsonaro’s road to disaster - GulfToday

COVID-19, Bolsonaro’s road to disaster


Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s condition is dire, to say the least. It reported a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths exceeding 4,000 for the first time on Tuesday, becoming the third nation to go above that daily threshold.

There is reportedly utter disorder in many hospitals but despite this many governors, mayors and judges are reopening parts of the economy.

The nation’s pandemic toll is quickly approaching 340,000, the second highest in the world. Only the US and Peru have had daily death tolls higher than 4,000.

What is alarming is that COVID-19 patients are using more than 90 per cent of the beds in intensive care unit in most Brazilian states, though figures have been stable since the past week. Still, hundreds are dying as they wait for care and basic supplies such as oxygen and sedatives are running out in several states.

Brazil is at the epicentre of Latin America’s latest epidemic wave, reporting a staggering 66,500 COVID-19 deaths in March alone.

That is because the President, Jair Bolsonaro, has chalked out an irritating rebellious path, waging a war of defiance not against the virus, but its restrictions.

In this regard, he and former US President Donald Trump are on the same page. Like Trump, he has downplayed the risks of the pandemic and is vehemently against a national lockdown. He has come down hard on the practice of wearing masks and attends large political rallies. No wonder he contracted the coronavirus.

Hundreds of Brazilian business leaders and economists have slammed his handling of the coronavirus crisis on Monday and called for a new policy approach.

For some reason whatsoever Bolsonaro has remained stiffnecked, saying the anti-virus steps kill jobs and make the poor poorer. He added that Brazil’s focus should be on destroying the virus and not attacking his government.

The virus notwithstanding, Brazilians seem to be in carnival mode. Thousands of Brazilians are travelling to coastal cities and ignoring recommendations on the first weekend of a 10-day holiday period decreed to contain the increase in COVID-19 infections in the country.

Many scenes in Brazilian cities show the  difficulty that authorities are facing in enlisting the cooperation of the population to contain the spread of the virus.

In Sao Sebastiao, a city of more than 80,000 inhabitants on the Sao Paulo coast, tourists damaged barriers installed at the access to beaches to avoid crowds, according to local reports. The city is one of those that suffered an influx of tourists who took advantage of the holidays decreed by the state government.

Brazil detected a new COVID-19 variant in Sao Paulo state that is similar to the one first seen in South Africa, the head of the state’s Butantan biomedical institute said.

Brazil is grappling with its own homegrown variant, called P1, which appears to be fuelling a record-breaking run of infections.

A slow vaccine rollout and lack of social distancing are contributing to the country’s spiralling caseload, which is pushing the country’s healthcare system to the brink.

Bolsonaro, who has come under fire for his handling of the pandemic, signed an executive order to disburse 5.3 billion reais ($918 million) in new loans to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bolsonaro seems to be making a bigger push to secure vaccines, including asking the United States for spare doses.

Brazil already makes or finishes coronavirus vaccines at its two main public health institutes, although those efforts have not been enough to supply Latin America’s largest nation.

With weak measures failing to combat contagion, Brazil’s COVID-19 cases and deaths are going north faster than ever. Unless Brazil stops taking a carnival-like approach towards the coronavirus, things could get worse.

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