Bolsonaro takes down Brazil's COVID-19 data amidst increasing number of cases and criticism

Brazil has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases.

Credit : Euronews

A Brazilian government website withdrew data on Coronavirus epidemic following widespread criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro's tackling of the situation. The move followed over 1,000 deaths continuously reported for four days. Amidst soaring numbers of COVID-19 patients and deaths in the country, Brazil has taken down the data from a public view website on Saturday.

A BBC report said the country’s health ministry has decided to report only cases and deaths during the past 24 hours. It would not provide a total figure as is the practice across the world. The president said the cumulative data did not represent the real status.

The world’s second-highest Coronavirus cases have been reported in Brazil. The country, of late, has the highest deaths in the world. There have been over 640,000 Covid-19 cases in Brazil. However, the number could be higher due to insufficient testing. The death toll of 35,000 is the world’s third-highest.


Only past 24-hr data on the website

The Brazilian health ministry withdrew the data related to the pandemic from its website, which was being displayed for over a period. The website merely showed the past 24-hr figures as 27,075 fresh cases and 904 deaths. The recovery figure stood at 10,209 patients.

Declaring the same on Twitter, President Jair Bolsonaro, on Saturday, wrote "While accumulating data, in addition to not indicating that the largest portion is no longer with the disease, they do not portray the moment of the country. Other actions are underway to improve case reporting and diagnostic confirmation." (translated from Portuguese by Google)

The country follows closely the US in the number of Covid-19 cases. They are likely to spike further as the epidemic is yet to peak, said experts.

Brazil overtook Italy on account of deaths, which put the country in third place in the world. The first two being the US and the UK. Not ready to take the pandemic seriously, Bolsonaro had earlier called it a 'little flu'. Dissatisfied with his response, two health ministers have quit during the outbreak. He has been asking local authorities to lift the lockdown measures, which he thought would ruin the economy. When the governors and mayors opposed his directives, he alleged that they were politicizing the issue.


"What is the WHO good for?" asks Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro received flak for not implementing the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Later, the far-right leader called the world body a “partisan political organization”. He issued a threat of withdrawing his country’s membership in the international organization.The president has been participating in social gatherings defying the social-distancing norm.

Meanwhile, Telesur quoted Bolsonaro as saying, “The US left the WHO and we are analyzing to do the same. Either the WHO works without ideological bias or we are going to withdraw as well.” He did not elaborate on how the international body has been biased though.

The Brazilian President has been supporting using chloroquine for treatment of Coronavirus-infected patients, which the WHO does not recommend as the medicine's effectiveness is not scientifically proved. Trashing the WHO recommendation, Bolsonaro said, “We don't need outsiders to give us clues about health in here,” adding: “What is the WHO good for?”

When asked to respond to US President Donald Trump’s comment on Brazil's strategy to tackle the pandemic, Bolsonaro preferred not to react. The Brazilian president merely said, “He is my friend, he is my brother. I spoke to him this week. We had a wonderful conversation. I send a hug to Trump. Brazil wants to deepen our relationship more and more. I push for his reelection.”

Trump had said that Brazil was witnessing “a difficult time” for following measures taken by Sweden against the virus spread. The country exposed its people to the virus to increase their immunity.


Updated with more data at 01:52, 08-06-20